The coal mine project involves dredging 1.1 million cubic metres of spoil near the iconic Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which will then be disposed off on land.

Environmental activists voice their opposition to Indian miner Adani's proposed Carmichael coal mine, outside Parliament House in Brisbane, Australia on May 25, 2017.
Environmental activists voice their opposition to Indian miner Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine, outside Parliament House in Brisbane, Australia on May 25, 2017.(AP File Photo)

Melbourne

Indian mining giant Adani Group’s 16.5 billion dollar controversy-hit coal mine project in Australia has cleared another hurdle with Brisbane Supreme Court dismissing an appeal filed by indigenous group against the project.

Traditional owners have faced another legal setback in their quest to block Indian giant Adani’s proposed megamine in central Queensland.

A small group of Wangan and Jagalingou people, who have a native title claim over the proposed site of the coal mine in the Galilee basin, on Tuesday  lost an appeal against an earlier Brisbane Supreme Court ruling that the granting of leases in the area were lawful.

Lawyers for the group argued in the Queensland Court of Appeal in May that issuing the leases to Adani was unlawful because they had not been given adequate opportunity to address the state government on native title issues relating to the proposed Carmichael site.

But Adani and the Queensland government argued the traditional owners had never made a proper objection to the mine under the terms set out by the Mineral Resources Act 1989.

Carmichael coal mine project, one of the world’s largest, will start construction this year after being given the green light by the federal and Queensland state governments.

The project involves dredging 1.1 million cubic metres of spoil near the iconic Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which will then be disposed off on land.

Despite being targeted by several political and environmental groups from time to time, the Adani group has reaffirmed its commitment for the project and promised to create economic prosperity, including creating thousands of jobs for the people in Queensland.

In May this year, the lawyers of Wangan and Jagalingou group, who have a native title claim over the proposed site of the mine in the Galilee basin, argued in the court that the issuing of the mining leases to Adani were unlawful as they had not been given adequate opportunity to address the state government on native title issues relating to the proposed Carmichael site.

This is the latest in a string of failed legal challenges in various courts from these traditional owners against the $16 billion coal mine, set to be the biggest in the southern hemisphere.

The controversial project has drawn the ire of green groups, who say it will be catastrophically damaging to the environment, while economists have branded investment in it risky because of the uncertainty of coal prices.

However, Adani and the state government argued that the traditional owners had never made a proper objection to the mine under the terms set out by the Mineral Resources Act 1989.

Responding to today’s decision, senior spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Adrian Burragubba, said “where there is mining there is no justice for Traditional Owners. We are not done yet. We will exhaust all legal avenues in our fight to for our rights and to protect our country”.

“Adani cannot move on the critical infrastructure for the mine until they can get us out of the way,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Adani group welcomed the court’s decision and said, “it represents yet another independent judicial decision upholding nearly eight years of development planning and rigorous approvals, and dismisses activist claims to the contrary”.

It is also another legal rebuff to activists’ use of the courts to seek to delay a project, the company said claiming that the project will inject 22 billion dollars in royalties and charges into the State coffers to be reinvested back into the community.

The company is expected to kick off the pre-construction work in September quarter of this year following Adani chairman Gautam Adani announcing the signing off on the project.

Meanwhile, members from the Stop Adani group held a sit-in at the mining company’s Townsville office on Tuesday to protest against the mine, with one arrested and charged for refusing to move on.

AAP

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