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Adani's Australian coal mine project faces new legal hurdle

Issuing a statement, the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) people, indigenous landowners, said they have vowed to stop the Carmichael mine project and that if it goes ahead their vast traditional lands and ancient connection to the country would "disappear" forever.

Natasha Chaku   Melbourne     Last Updated: May 29, 2015  | 14:49 IST
Adani's Australian coal mine project faces new legal hurdle
Picture for representational purpose.

Indigenous aboriginal landowners in Australia's Queensland state on Friday announced a fresh federal court challenge to Indian mining firm Adani Group 's $16.5 billion Carmichael coal mine project.

Issuing a statement, the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) people, indigenous landowners, said they have vowed to stop the Carmichael mine project and that if it goes ahead their vast traditional lands and ancient connection to the country would "disappear" forever.

W&J traditional owner and spokesperson Adrian Burragubba said,"First, we announce that we have filed an appeal and judicial review in the Federal Court of Australia. This court action challenges the decision of Australia's National Native Title Tribunal that the Queensland government may issue mining leases for Carmichael".

"This challenge is unprecedented in the history of Native Title Tribunal decisions. If necessary, we will take our case all the way to the High Court," Burragubba said.

"But this disastrous mine needs billions of dollars of finance if it is to ever go ahead," Burragubba said adding that "we also announce on Friday that in 48 hours, on Sunday we will embark on a world tour to hold high-level talks with investment banks on Wall Street, in European finance capitals, and in Asia".

"We will communicate to the banks that we do not consent to Carmichael, and the reasons we cannot allow this mine to go ahead. We will remind them that any bank that funds Carmichael will be breaching important human rights principles to which they are signatory; principles requiring that projects that affect indigenous owners have their consent. We'll urge them to honour their obligations and commit to ruling out funding," he said.

The statement added W&J will also meet with First Nations traditional owners opposing massive fossil fuel projects, including the tar sands projects in Alberta, Canada.

Last month, some landowners had alleged that Adani was "misleading" the public to suit its own economic interests by "wrongfully" asserting that Australian aboriginals support its project in their ancestral lands.

In reaction to W&J's fresh move, Adani issued a statement saying, "Adani is confident that the judgement of the National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT) will be upheld".

"The NNTT variously held that authorised representatives of the W&J are working with the company, the submissions of groups purporting to represent the whole group were not relevant, that the mine and other Adani projects would deliver substantial intergenerational economic benefits to the W&J, and that there are sound and effective cultural heritage management plans for the site long since in place," Adani Mining said.

"It is unfortunate that NGOs who have deductible gift recipient status, narrowly with respect to their environmental activities have admitted to channelling funds to run a divisive campaign within the W&J group," it said.

(PTI)

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