Thousands of protesters demonstrated across Australia this week to prevent further action on a coal mine in Queensland. The Carmichael mine was granted environmental approval by the Australian government in April, according to ABC News Australia. This quickly turned the controversy into an issue in the federal election, which will occur on May 18th.
The mine, a project of the company Adani, would export coal for electricity to Asia, including to India, Adani's home market. It was originally planned to be installed and running roughly four years ago, but progress has been stalled as the mine faces increasing criticism. The controversy is part of a nationwide debate about the creation of new thermal coal mines and the future of Australian climate change legislation more broadly.
If Adani is successful, it could pave the way for companies that have proposed five new coal mines for the Queensland's Galilee Basin, an area rich in coal, according to the Guardian.
Environmentalists are concerned burning all of the basin's coal would further increase Australia's annual carbon emissions and accelerate climate change. Others are concerned that the mine could drain Doongmabulla Springs, which provides vital habitat for the endangered black-throated finch.
While Adani has already received mining and environmental licenses from the Queensland government, it is still waiting on state signatures for environmental plans aimed at managing groundwater and the black-throated finch, according to the Guardian.
To move forward, Adani would also need the Queensland government to eliminate native title claims to proposed site of the mine that belong to the Wangan and Jagalingou people.
Those in support of the project argue that it will benefit the local economy through job creation and rising property values, and that Asia will get its coal elsewhere, so the climate impacts will occur either way.
Negotiations regarding licenses will continue in the coming months. However, if (opposing) Federal Labor leader Bill Shorten is elected next month, the current approvals for the Adani plan could be overturned, according to ABC News Australia.