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article imageAdani's coal mine could be trashed if a little bird triumphs

By Karen Graham     Mar 31, 2015 in Environment
Plans for the largest coal mine in Australia are being challenged in court this week, pitting India's Adani Group against one of Australia's many endangered species, the four-inch southern Black-throated Finch.
A wholly-owned subsidiary of India's Adani Group, Adani Mining's plans for the $16.5 million Carmichael coal mine north of the Galilee Basin in Central Queensland is being challenged by Coast and Country, an environmental group in the Land Court of Queensland on Tuesday.
If Adani's plan is approved, the coal mine would be expected to produce at least 50 to 60 million tons of coal each year from the Galilee Basin. The plans also include the building of an 189-kilometer rail line for transporting the coal to port facilities at the expanded Abbot Point coal terminal in Townsville, north of Bowen.
The Land Court heard that the plans would essentially wipe out the habitat of the world's "last significant population of the southern Black-throated finch," reported ABC “The environmental harm it will cause, or is at risk of causing, will be correspondingly great,” lawyer Saul Holt QC, for Coast and Country, told the court.
Opponents have argued all along the mine's economic benefits have been grossly overstated while the environmental costs could end up being a lot more significant than people realize. In reality, it is not just the habitat of the Black-throated Finch that will be destroyed by the six open-pit mines and five underground mines, but there are the wetlands of Doongmabulla Springs, just west of the mine site to consider. Holt told the court the wetlands "will dry up with the loss of exceptional ecological values."
A far greater issue is water usage. Based on an independent expert of the "Scientific Committee on Coal Seam gas and Large Mining Developments" it was estimated the mine will use over 12 billion liters of water in its operation every year. The answer to this was a statement by Minister Hunt, who said Adani is required to replace the water being used at the rate of 730 megaliters a year for five years. That figure only comes to six percent of the estimated usage.
Further studies showed that over the expected 60-year life of the mine, it would produce 200 million tons of carbon dioxide. This figure includes emissions from the mining process and transportation to a port facility. Needless to say, environmentalist, agricultural groups, and independent researchers are very concerned,
The southern Black-throated Finch
There are two species of the Black-throated finch, the southern (BTFS), Poephila cincta cincta, and the northern subspecies, Poephila cincta atropygialis. Only the southern Black-throated finch is considered endangered. It can be distinguished from the northern members of the family by its white rump.
The latest data on the BTFS show that since the 1980s, its range has declined by at least 80 percent. Its range once extended from the town of Inverell NSW, and through eastern Queensland to Cairns in the north. Today, it is now extinct south of the Burdekin River. The population of the BTFS is now estimated to be at less than 10,000 total.
More about Australian coal mine, Adani Group, blackthroated finch, Global warming, Endangered species
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