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Adani's Australian arm Bravus issued with Environment Protection Order over future underground works at Carmichael mine

Bravus has been issued with an environmental protection order for its Carmichael mine. (triple j Hack: Angel Parsons )

Adani's Australian branch Bravus has been issued with an Environmental Protection Order over its proposed Carmichael mine expansion in Central Queensland.

Bravus must now do extra groundwater modelling after providing Queensland's Department of Environment and Science (DES) with new information indicating that future underground mining may draw down on water from the nearby Doongmabulla Springs, which would be beyond the mine's approved impact. 

The springs are nationally important wetlands west of Moranbah.

DES said Bravus had committed to further investigation into the impact of future underground mining on the springs, ordering it not to commence underground mining until a review was provided to the department and approved.

"The department recognises the significant cultural and environmental values attached to the Doongmabulla Springs Complex and is committed to ensuring the highest protection is afforded to the springs," DES said in a statement.

"The department is continuing to review the current report and has sought advice from CSIRO and Geoscience Australia."

Protection order on future works

Bravus said the open-cut mine already operating did not affect the springs.

Underground mining is planned to begin after 2034, but Bravus said that would not go ahead until more modelling was done.

Bravus said the Carmichael mine had "some of the strictest environmental conditions of any resources project in Australia's history".

"While we are not doing any underground mining now, the new model does indicate we have additional work to do on our future underground mining plans to ensure they do not cause water levels in the springs to fall by more than 20 centimetres after mining occurs, which is one of our regulatory conditions," the company said in a statement.

"Prior to the issue of this order, we had already proactively and publicly committed to not mining underground before doing the necessary scientific and modelling work to ensure we continue to comply with our approvals.

"This shows the right checks and balances were already in place to protect groundwater and were working well.

"We also note that this is an unusual use of the Environmental Protection Act as an Environmental Protection Order is mostly used to police actual damage or immediate threatened harm, which is not the case in this instance.

"We are reviewing the conditions of the order and are considering our options."

Concerns remain despite environmental approvals

Lock the Gate national coordinator Ellen Roberts said evidence there would be an impact on the spring should have been identified when the mine was approved.

"This research … should've been done years ago before both the Queensland and federal governments decided to approve the mine," she said.

"Both the Queensland and federal governments are responsible for ensuring that the springs are maintained in good conditions.

"Both the Queensland and federal governments ticked off on approving Adani's Charmichael mine without understanding the impact."

The Carmichael mine received its final approvals in 2019 after almost a decade of planning and political debate.

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