On January 13, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Berlin offices of the leading industrial manufacturing conglomerate, Siemens, to condemn the deal it has signed with the controversial Adani mining project in Australia. Siemens has signed a USD 30 million deal for the construction of rail signalling infrastructure at the Carmichael mine in Queensland, Australia, with the Adani group. Adani group is a conglomerate controlled by Indian billionaire Gautam Adani.
The Carmichael mining, one of the biggest mining projects in the world, has faced fierce resistance from activists and Indigenous communities in Australia and beyond. Activists note that the mining project, due to its proximity, will adversely impact the local ecology, which includes Great Barrier Reef and aquifers of the Great Artesian Basin.
The mining project will also have access to 270 billion liters of Queensland’s precious ground water (from the Great Artesian Basin) for a 60-year period. The Great Artesian Basin is the principal source of freshwater for the arid to semi-arid inland heart of Australia. Several reports have pointed out that due to increased mining activity, the water pressure in natural springs and bores in the area has witnessed a considerable drop.
A 2012 report revealed that increased water extraction by the Olympic Dam copper-uranium mining project – one of the biggest uranium ore producing mines in the world – has also caused significant drying up of nearby mound springs in the area.
This is disastrous for a country like Australia, which is prone to drought. These fears have been further exacerbated by the recent bushfires in the country that followed a prolonged period of persistent heat and drought. Till now, more than 17.9 million acres of land have been consumed in the fires raging across Australia, and 28 people have lost their lives.
Additionally, the Carmichael mine will also adversely impact the quality and life of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) due to increased shipping traffic. The reef is already facing severe ocean acidification or bleaching, and the Adani mining project is a death blow for this ecologically sensitive area.
Activists note that the mining project is being built on Indigenous land without the consent of the Indigenous communities. To pave way for the Adani mine, the Queensland government had cancelled Indigenous land titles over 1,385 hectares of Wangan and Jagalingou country land in August 2019.
There has been massive resistance in Australia against the Carmichael mining project and Adani’s involvement. Despite the threats by the conservative government headed by prime minister Scott Morrison, the protests are intensifying. In November last year, Morrison had said that his government will bring in new legislation to outlaw “radical climate activism,” referring to the protests against Adani’s mining project.