New Delhi, April 10: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed that he will meet the founder of the Adani mining company, Gautam Adani, during his India visit, amid reports of environmental damage to wetlands in Queensland due to water spills from the Adani-operated Abbot Point coal terminal.
According to Australian media, Adani is expected to lobby for his company’s bid for a $900 million concessional loan from the North Australia Infrastructure Facility.
In a short appearance on Monday afternoon here, Turnbull confirmed the meeting.
The $21.7 billion Carmichael project was approved in December but has faced serious opposition from environmental groups.
The Australian government is considering a bid from Adani for a $1 billion concessional loan from its Northern Australia infrastructure fund to help build a rail line servicing the mine.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Queensland government is investigating water spills from the Abbot Point coal terminal into neighbouring wetlands as an expert predicts long-term environmental damage.
The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection was assessing whether there were any unauthorised water releases from the Adani-operated coal terminal into the wetland after Cyclone Debbie hit north Queensland late last month.
The EHP and Adani said early indications showed all spills were within guidelines.
But the daily quoted James Cook University professorial research fellow in water quality studies Professor Jon Brodie as saying that coal had clearly spilled into the wetlands and environmental harm was “highly likely”.
The comments came in the wake of the release of satellite imagery from before and after the storm, appearing to show coal-laden water spilling throughout the sensitive Caley Valley wetlands.
The Mackay Conservation Group said the 5000-hectare wetlands were home to 40,000 shorebirds in the wet season and more than 200 individual species, the daily said.
It quoted an Adani spokesman as saying the company had complied with the conditions and no spill had made its way to the adjacent sea.
“In the wake of the category 4 Tropical Cyclone Debbie, the company has been working closely with the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection to ensure that we comply with the special and rigorous conditions of the special licence,” the spokesman said.