First look at Australia’s most controversial mine

 

IT'S the mine activists love to hate, the project that the Palaszczuk Government did not want to proceed and the issue that helped cost Bill Shorten the keys to the Lodge.

Yet despite a decade of controversy before finally winning approval last year, Adani has quietly made massive progress on the Carmichael Mine which has become one of Queensland's greatest new job generators during the COVID-19 crisis.

The pictures of the mine reveal how the initial coal pit is almost ready to be blasted and the new rail line has begun snaking a path to the port.

Aspects of the Carmichael mine are taking shape in central Queensland. Picture: Cameron Laird.
Aspects of the Carmichael mine are taking shape in central Queensland. Picture: Cameron Laird.

More than 1500 workers are now on site and $1.5 billion worth of contracts awarded to mostly Queensland companies as Adani races to meet its self-imposed deadline of delivering its first coal shipment by next year.

Yet all that progress appears to have been lost on the Palaszczuk Government with the last mention of Adani's ability to create jobs made in June last year when Mines Minister Anthony Lynham made a pointed comment about the project.

"Now with Adani having approval to mine, it's up to them to live up to their claims and provide regional jobs," he said.

New Adani chief David Boshoff is unperturbed that the company's relations with the Labor administration still aren't exactly cordial.

"There are so many people that I speak to daily that wouldn't have had this opportunity if it wasn't for the project," he said.

"I spoke to someone working in hospitality industry and they actually work in this camp, in this facility, and they lost their job to COVID-19 in Townsville as a result of a hotel shutting down.

A massive dump truck, which will switch from carrying soil to coal once the mine is operational. Picture: Cameron Laird.
A massive dump truck, which will switch from carrying soil to coal once the mine is operational. Picture: Cameron Laird.

"Those examples to me are amazing to talk to because I don't know what that person would have done if it wasn't for an opportunity like this."

And in a somewhat ironical twist of fate, the unprecedented campaign by activists to spook big businesses out of dealing with Adani led the company to deals with an array of smaller Queensland operators, meaning progress was not disturbed by the COVID-19 crisis.

"Of course, there are lot of different activists who have impacted on larger businesses and some of them have certainly shied away from working with us," Mr Boshoff said.

"But our strategy then changed to work with the smaller and medium sized companies in Queensland and that's worked an absolute treat."

Among the workforce of mostly Queenslanders is 34-year-old Rockhampton local Nick Carman who has been working in the industry for 15 years.

Mr Carman jumped at the opportunity to move from a mine in Moura and for the last few months has been shifting 18,000 tonnes of soil a day operating the massive Liebherr excavator.

Visitors check out an excavator during a tour of the mine. Picture: Cameron Laird.
Visitors check out an excavator during a tour of the mine. Picture: Cameron Laird.

"I'll be here as long as they will have me," he said.

Same goes for 24-year-old high voltage electrician Jordy Thomson, a Townsville local who spent months logging onto Adani's online jobs portal waiting for the right job to become available.

He's now working daily on Adani's fleet of dump trucks which will convert from carting soil to carrying coal once the mine is operating.

"I signed up and was waiting for the jobs to come out," he said. "And once the electrical roles came up then I applied straight away."

Mr Thomson said he hoped to keep working with Adani for years.

"You don't always get that with my work," he said.

Mr Boshoff said Adani didn't have date for when it planned to expand from a 10 million tonne a year operation but the company wasn't going anywhere.

A new rail line is snaking its way to port. Picture: Cameron Laird.
A new rail line is snaking its way to port. Picture: Cameron Laird.

"We have detailed plans for 50 years," he said. "That doesn't mean the resources stops after 50 years, it just means we haven't planned anything beyond that period."

Mr Boshoff said critics who claim the Carmichael mine doesn't stack up miss the point that energy demand is skyrocketing and Queensland coal is cleaner than its international competitors.

"Someone in the market will fill it and we believe in doing it right here in Queensland at the highest environmental standards and making sure that Queenslanders are benefiting from those jobs," he said.


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