Both Parties summarised their cases. Below are the key issues that will be argued. 

Two matters of significance 

  1. This would be the largest coal mine in Australia and among the largest coal mine in the world. The environmental harm would be significant;
  2. The economics of thermal coal have dramatically changed. The scale of economic benefits can no longer be assumed and neither can financial viability of the project.

Key themes

  • Over reliance on aspirational conditions and unproven offset strategies to manage significant environmental harm;
  • Extent the applicant’s own expert witness criticise or distance themselves from the methodology and analysis the applicant relied on in the EIS and SEIS

Source aquifer for the Doongmabulla springs 

  • Applicant’s modeling in the SEIS and elsewhere assumes the springs will not be affected.

Key issue

  • What source does the aquifer come from?
  • Adani – fed by the aquifer above not below therefore mine will not affect it
  • Coast and Country – fed by aquifer below not above and will affect springs
  • Both sides experts agree the springs have “exceptional ecological value”

Waxy cabbage

  • Waxy cabbage is rare, and only found in the Burdekin river catchment
  • Carmichael population is the largest single known population
  • Carmichael population is considered “necessary for species survival”
  • Both sides agree – If springs are adversely impacted the effect on waxy cabbage is unknown

Key issue and point of difference is Offsets of Cabbage, Black Throated Finch and Springs ecology 

  • Key difference – offsets in this case is absence of information, specifically:
    • The environmental values of impacted environment
    • The level and risk of environmental harm
    • Capacity of offsets to meet the predicted harm
  • There is a key knowledge gap that has only become obvious after joint experts

Black Throated Finch

  • If the mine goes ahead there is high likelihood of species threatening harm to most significant population
  • Two populations left in the world are both in Queensland
  • Listed as endangered
  • Black Throated Finch is extinct south of the Burdekin river
  • Both parties agree that there will be harmed caused to Black Throated Finch if the mine proceeds
  • Both agree the applicant’s survey methodology and effort in the SEIS was inadequate
  • Disagreement in offsets

Climate Change

  • No dispute between experts on climate change and what it means
  • Adani will argue that thermal coal market is demand driven, if this mine does not go ahead then the equivalent amount of coal will be supplied for elsewhere and consumption and therefore emission will remain the same
  • Climate change is the single greatest threat to Great Barrier Reef – emissions with increase warming and ocean acidification

Economics

  • Central to both sides cases
  • SEIS relied on input/output modeling to predict economic benefits
  • Estimated 10,000 new jobs would be created
  • Applicant’s nominated witness Dr Jerome Fahrer agreed that input/output modelling was deficient and tended to overestimate the employment estimates
  • Dr Fahrer then produced a brand new analysis of economic benefits and significantly revised down the numbers
  • Tim Buckley – world thermal coal market is in structural rather than cyclical decline. As a consequence of this structural decline is that this mine is unviable and there is a real likelihood of it becoming a stranded asset
  • Futures market predicting that prices will continue to slump
  • A policy shift away from imported coal in India
  • The consistent downgrading of coal forecasts including by the Australian Treasury and The International Energy Agency
  • Costs such as borrowing costs, rail costs and port loading costs haven’t been included
  • No financial witness from Adani

Objections:

Adani’s witness – Hamish Manson Head of environment and sustainability at Adani:

  • Additional works to commence environmental monitoring plan – both plans completed in draft
  • Hydrogeology clarifications requested by the environment department
  • Lead environmental approvals associated with Carmichael
  • Paragraph 45 – belief that environmental controls to be placed on activities adequately mitigate and offset impacts
  • Springs – ¾ set of springs, lengthy report on ecological value of springs on behalf of Adani formed part of SES docs