HAVING lived his whole life on the land, grazier Bruce Currie is determined to leave the country he’s farmed in better shape for future generations.
But he’s worried Adani’s planned Carmichael mega-mine will have irreversible effects on the only source of fresh water for much of inland Australia.
Mr Currie said it was uncertain what impact coal mining in the Galilee Basin could have on the Great Artesian Basin, which stretches over 1,700,000sqkm across 23% of the continent.
“For us to jeopardise water supplies to graziers and communities that rely on that for water goes beyond belief,” he said.
“To be so callous that we’re going to jeopardise people’s needed water supplies, I just can’t work out the logic.”
Anxious to find out for himself what impact the mining company’s project could have in Australia and share his views, the grazier joined a delegation to India as part of the Stop Adani campaign.
The campaign has been spearheaded by former Greens leader Bob Brown, but it was a small group of everyday Australians who travelled to India.
Mr Currie was joined by a Great Barrier Reef tourism operator, a businessman and an environment advocate on the journey, which saw them clash with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s delegation.
It’s not the first time he’s rallied against mines on environmental grounds, taking on GVK Hancock over its proposed Kevin’s Corner and Alpha mines.
But he fears if Carmichael goes ahead, those two projects, which border his extensive cattle property west of Alpha, may follow.
Mr Currie described himself and other primary producers as “a steward of the land”, with a responsibility to defend the environment, something in line with another concern looming over the mine: the future of the Great Barrier Reef.
“I’d hate to be the generation that was responsible for the death of that reef,” he said.
The journey to India was an eye-opener for Mr Currie, who said he saw many situations where people’s livelihoods had been destroyed by the construction of ports and power stations to use the coal that would be generated by Carmichael.
“The port and power production facilities around the Mundra area especially has impacted on the lives of about 8000 fishermen, about 4000 pastoralists and about 3000 small-scale salt producers,” he said.
“That displacement and the destruction … it just goes to show how heavily impacted people are from that one situation.
“If more of them are produced to create more power, more people will be displaced and their lifestyles are being destroyed, so I think rather than the claims that producing power will bring 300,000 people out of poverty, it’s actually sending more people into economic and social hardship.”
A spokesperson for Adani said the project had more than 1800 environmental conditions to adhere to, the most of any Queensland project.
The spokesperson said Adani had interests in thermal coal, energy production and agribusiness, as well as mining.
In India, the company is one of the largest agribusiness producers.
“We understand the importance of preserving and indeed enhancing water stocks, be they surface or artesian,” the spokesperson said.
“Given the number of regulatory requirements placed on the project, we are confident we will indeed enhance the reliability of water supply in that region.”
In relation to Mr Currie’s concerns about the living conditions in some villages, the spokesperson said those living in some villages had been relocated at the company’s expense.
“We have re-planted almost 200ha of mangroves and have improved the water availability in the area in a trade enterprise zone.
“That zone includes a significant thermal coal power station, a solar station, a solar plant manufacturing factory as well as many hectares of land that was graded as desert and is now fertilised and green.”
What is the GAB?
• The Great Artesian Basin (GAB) is one of the largest underground water reservoirs in the world.
• It underlies approximately 22% of Australia-occupying more than 1.7 million square kilometres beneath the arid and semi-arid parts of Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory.