9 November 2015
Lawyers are calling on the Australian and Queensland governments to properly scrutinise the track record of the Adani Group and its executive officers as revelations of environmental offences committed in Zambia call into question the suitability of the Indian mining giant to run the biggest coal mine in Australian history.
A report released publicly today by lawyers at Environmental Justice Australia and US-based Earthjustice – Can the Adani Group be trusted to comply with environmental laws? – reveals new evidence that the CEO of the Adani Group’s Australian operations, Jeyakumar Janakaraj, was previously Director of Operations of a mining company that pleaded guilty to criminal charges arising out of a water pollution incident in Zambia that took place during his tenure.
Environmental Justice Australia lawyer and report co-author Ariane Wilkinson said, “From 2008 until 2013, the Adani Group’s Australian CEO, Mr Jeyakumar Jankaraj, held senior roles at Konkola Copper Mines, a major copper mining company in Zambia. While Mr Janakaraj was KCM’s Director of Operations, KCM polluted the Kafue River – upon which local communities depend for drinking water, fishing and irrigation – with toxic waste water. KCM pleaded guilty to a criminal prosecution for this pollution, and for wilfully failing to report it, and was fined.” Ms Wilkinson said.
“The Carmichael mine would cause unacceptable harm to the environment and Aboriginal peoples and should in no instance go forward,” said Martin Wagner, Managing Attorney of US-based Earthjustice’s International Program. “Moreover, the Adani Group should not be allowed to operate any mine in Australia if it and its executives cannot demonstrate a record of safe mining operations and compliance with the law. This new information about environmental harms and legal violations in Zambia, coupled with evidence of the Adani Group’s involvement in environmental harm in India and failure to comply with Indian law and environmental permits, is relevant to determining whether the Adani Group can make such a showing.”
Ms Wilkinson said, “If the offences committed by KCM when Mr Janakaraj was Director of Operations had happened in Australia, they could form a legal basis for cancellation of Adani Mining Pty Ltd’s registration as a suitable operator, which is a pre-condition for being granted an environmental authority in Queensland.
“It’s time that Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt and the Queensland Director General of the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection adequately scrutinise the environmental track record of the Adani Group and properly consider whether it is worth the risk to allow this enormous coal mine, which will impact our Great Barrier Reef, to proceed.