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Traditional Owners Fight Against Coal Port On Great Barrier Reef

Chorus of protest against foreign mining giant’s Queensland coal bid.

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Aboriginal traditional owners have led a protest against Indian energy giant Adani's proposed plans for Abbot Point and the Galilee Basin in Queensland.

"Not only are they stripping away our rights, our belonging to country, they’re stripping away our environment and Aboriginality by removing us as the original custodians of the land" - Kenny Peter-Dodd, Birri-Gubba Elder.

Craig Devlin​

Adani’s controversial Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project, plans to mine coal in central Queensland's Galilee Basin and also has provisions for a large scale expansion of a coal shipping port at Abbot Point on the Queensland coast.

The port would see shipping lanes pass through the Great Barrier Reef and has drawn widespread criticism from community groups, environmentalists and alternative energy experts.

Protestors marched onto Abbot Point Coal Terminal lands, 25km north of Bowen. Aboriginal elder Kenny Peter-Dodd tells BuzzFeed News that if the project goes ahead train lines to transport the coal will cut through his ancestral Birri-Gubba Lands. He believes that if the project happens it will mean Aboriginal people have failed in their protection of the land.

"The infrastructure comes through Birri country. We are so worried about the environmental impacts and mainly the coastline, the reef and the environment and ecology of the Great Barrier Reef and the wildlife that surrounds it."

Local Juru elder Carol Prior, who led a smoking ceremony before the rally said, "We are standing together, united as one, to protect Mother Earth. Mother Earth - our environment - is my culture, my heritage, and my Aboriginality."

"Don’t put your money into this project. It will spell the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef" – Charlie Woods, environmentalist.

Craig Devlin​

Adani is yet to raise the estimated $16 billion it requires to begin the project.

Charlie Woods from the Reef Defenders action group hopes it stays that way.

"We have a very clear message for banks in Australia and overseas, particularly here, don’t put your money into this project. It will spell the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef and accelerate climate change and damage the traditional owners of this land."

Traditional owners say they will approach international banks to dissuade them from investing in the project.

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Adani Group said they are committed to ensuring the sound environmental management of the area, and insisted that Indigenous people will benefit from future mine, rail and port projects.

"The company has undergone five years of the most rigorous environmental approvals to ensure the appropriate protection of the local environment while providing the opportunity for 10,000 jobs and $22 billion in royalties and taxes to be reinvested back into community services in Queensland.

"This commitment is reaffirmed by a $50 million commitment to traditional owner groups to deliver an environmental management program across its projects. The program will be developed and implemented by the traditional owners."