Adani’s Australian mine won’t start until they have a land agreement with us: Indigenous activist

The Australian community, which controls large tracts of land where Adani’s mine is coming up, has turned down three offers from the Adani Group since 2012.

Photo Courtesy: Social media
Photo Courtesy: Social media

Dhairya Maheshwari

An Australian traditional landowner battling a court case against Adani Group’s Carmichael Coal Mine has raised doubts over claims that work on the controversial coal mine could begin in October, as being claimed by the Indian business giant.

“I can confirm that work on Adani’s coal mine won’t begin until they have a land use agreement with us. They don’t even have the required money to begin work on the rail link,” Adrian Burragubba, a petitioner from the Wangan and Jagalingou indigenous community, told National Herald.

Burragubba noted that Adani Group’s request for a government loan to build a railway line was still pending before the government. “From what I have heard, he has just $400 million, out of $1 billion required, to build the railway line,” he said.

He informed that the community had been approached by representatives of the Adani Group thrice, in 2012, 2014 and most recently in March 2016.

“Their offer wasn’t lucrative enough. They just offered a few low-paid driving jobs, 30 jobs in the mine and a very meagre compensation,” Burragubba informed.

As per the Australian law, the Wangan and Jagalingou indigenous community has title rights over large tracts of land in the central region of Australia’s Queensland state.

Burragubba’s court case on the Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) is set be heard in Australia’s High Court, the country’s apex court, in March 2018.

Adani Enterprises’ shares had rallied eight per cent on Wednesday on the back of announcement by country’s trade and investment minister Steven Ciobo that the Adani Group had got all approvals for its mine project.

Burragubba refused to comment on the minister’s announcement, stating that the legal hurdles that the Indian group was facing wouldn’t allow the industrialist to begin any major work on the mine at least until March 2018.

“I really think that Adani wants everyone to believe that everything is in order as far as his Australian coal mine is concerned, and that is why he is making such baseless statements,” he reacted.

“They don’t have a final investment decision. They do not have investors. They don’t have money to build a railway line. They haven’t been able to raise the $5 billion needed to complete the first phase of the project,” Burragubba claimed.

He reckoned that it was quite improbable for the Adani Group to start exporting coal by March 2020, as being claimed.

Burragubba’s legal effort against the powerful business group was dealt a setback earlier this week after a Federal Court in Brisbane dismissed a separate court case challenging the mining leases issued to the Adani Group by the Queensland state government.

The lawyer for Burragubba in the case, Benedict Coyne, said in a press release that they were “carefully considering the judgment”, not ruling out the prospect of approaching the court again.

“We are thinking of approaching the full bench of the court against last week’s decision,” Burragubba said.

A separate case against Australia government’s approval of the mine had been lodged by an environment peak body, Environmental Defenders Office of Queensland, which was also struck down by the Brisbane Federal Court earlier this week. The group is likely to approach the High Court, according to a lawyer involved in the matter.

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