Adani pleads guilty to giving ‘false or misleading documents’, fined $20,000


Mining giant Adani has been fined $20,000 after pleading guilty to providing false or misleading information to Queensland’s environmental regulator.

Key points:

  • No conviction was recorded against the company Adani Mining Pty Ltd, in the Brisbane Magistrates Court
  • It belatedly declared clearing land on its mine site after environmentalists complained to the Government
  • The company says it has been prosecuted for an “an administrative error”

No conviction was recorded.

The company was facing a fine of up to $3 million if convicted under the Environmental Protection Act.

Magistrate Stephen Courtney said in sentencing that “the company is a large one, it’s well resourced”.

“This mistake just should not have happened,” Mr Courtney said.

In court papers, the Department of Environment and Science (DES) says Adani filed its annual return in March 2018 with a graph declaring it cleared no land on the Carmichael mine site, north-west of Clermont, in 2017-18.

The DES alleged it became aware of the offence six months later.

It alleged Adani “knew or ought reasonably to have known [the document] was false or misleading” because it had planned and carried out land clearing before and during the reporting period.

On September 6, 2018, conservation group Coast and Country raised land clearing allegations with the State Government, citing satellite imagery.

State and federal environment department officials then inspected the site within days.

Almost two weeks later, Adani amended its return to declare a total of 132 hectares cleared, including 5.8 hectares in the reporting period.

An Adani Mining spokeswoman said the department had “chosen to prosecute Adani Mining for an administrative error … which we self-reported”.

“The prosecution is proceeding despite the fact all relevant works were legal, and fully complied with our project conditions, and despite there being no environmental harm,” the spokeswoman said.

“Improvements to internal processes were introduced at the time the administrative error was discovered and reported by us to ensure paperwork errors of this nature are avoided in the future.

“We will continue to participate in the relevant legal processes required to resolve this matter.”