Adani remains under investigation by the Queensland Government for alleged illegal works on its Carmichael mine site, despite federal authorities ruling out any wrongdoing.
State officials have confirmed the ongoing probe into whether the company breached its environmental authority by sinking six dewatering bores last year.
The ABC revealed in September the department had launched an investigation into whether Adani sunk the groundwater bores in breach of its approval under the state Environmental Protection Act.
Their federal counterparts cleared Adani of breaching commonwealth laws in October after visiting the site once the previous month and requesting further information from the miner.
They accepted the miner drilled bores to survey groundwater.
Environmental lawyers claim that is at odds with the design specifications of the bores, which have since been registered with the label “DWB”, a common acronym for dewatering bores.
Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan said the Federal Environment Department findings showed the claims to be “complete rubbish” and Adani critics were “increasingly losing credibility”.
“Time and time again we have allegations and claims made about the activities of Adani and other coalmining companies,” he said.
“More often than not, they are proven to be complete rubbish.”
Queensland Greens senator Larissa Waters said she had reviewed documents relating to the Federal Environment Department’s inquiries and “unfortunately it seems that there wasn’t a thorough investigation”.
Ms Waters is a former lawyer at Queensland’s Environmental Defenders Office (EDO), which has provided the State Government evidence of the alleged breach, including drone footage of the bores.
State Government investigation still underway
A spokesman for the Queensland Department of Environment and Science (DES) said the Government was aware of the Commonwealth findings.
“DES is undertaking a more comprehensive investigation under separate state legislation, and has made several information requests to Adani, and has also carried out site inspections,” he said.
“If non-compliances are identified during the course of the investigation, DES can move to enforcement action.”
Adani still needs approval for its groundwater dependent ecosystem management plan to carry out mining operations.
Last month, the ABC revealed the Queensland Environment Department was examining evidence including specifications of groundwater bores registered by Adani on a government website.
Queensland’s EDO and a university groundwater expert argued the bores construction, materials and depth are consistent with dewatering bore standards but incompatible with groundwater monitoring.
The EDO claimed the “highly persuasive” evidence included a public admission by Adani that it had cleared six hectares on the mine site when it was prevented from carrying out “significant disturbance”.
Adani has denied wrongdoing, and said the company had drilled the bores “to take geological samples and monitor underground water levels”, which was permitted in the first stage of its environmental licence.
An Adani spokeswoman said the company welcomed the federal findings confirming it “has not engaged in illegal activity, following false claims made by the Environmental Defenders Office”.
“As stated then, we have, and are currently, conducting Stage 1 project activities on site, which are permitted under our Environmental Authority and project approval conditions,” she said.
“We will continue to conduct our operations safely and in line with all Australian regulatory standards.”
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