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  1.  Engineering sustainability   


    What is Engineering sustainability   



Subject Report Writing Pages 12 Style APA


Status Report of the Adani Mine Project


The increasing focus on sustainability and sustainable development by policymakers across the world has prompted engineers, project managers and project sponsors or owners to look for ways of incorporating sustainable practices in large-scale engineering projects. According to the United Nation’s Brundtland Report of 1987, a development project is said to incorporate sustainable practices if it can enable the present generation to meet their needs without compromising the ability of its posterity to meet their own needs – which is the fundamental premise of sustainability as reflected in Morelli (2011). Most development projects tend to be oblivious to their future impacts, and thus exploit natural resources, which threatens the ability of the environment to continue providing essential life-supporting services. By incorporating sustainable in large-scale engineering projects, stakeholders are better positioned to avoid overconsumption of scarce and crucial natural resources by establishing a balance between the society’s economic, environment and social needs. This report is an inquiry into the Adani Mine project with particular emphasis on the extent to which sustainability principles and models are incorporated in the project.            

Description of the Project

Also known as the Carmichael coal mine, Adani mine is a highly contentious coal mining project in the northern Galilee Basin in Central Queensland (Hall, 2020). The mine was approved by the Australian federal and the Queensland governments in the mid-2019 amidst heated controversy, and is to be operated and managed by an Indian company, the Adani Group. The mine, as Hannam (2019) notes, is named after a nearby river – river Carmichael – and is expected to be the “most viable of nine coal projects earmarked for the Galilee Basin” once operations begin. The basin is believed to contain one of the largest untapped thermal coal deposits not only in Australia but also in the world. Thermal coal is the type of coal used to generate electricity. Preliminary plans suggest that mining will be conducted through underground and open-cut methods. Notably, the mine will have “six open-cut pits as well as five underground mines, with a disturbance area more than 30km long” (Slezak, 2018). According to Adani Mining Group, the mine is expected to produce approximately 2.3 billion tons of thermal coal within 60 years of operation, making it equal to the largest coal in the United States (Slezak, 2018). Controversies surrounding the Adan Mine project and its approval revolve around its impacts to the environment, climate and the welfare of local communities.

Current Phase of the Project

The Adani Mine project is still in the planning phase. As the second phase of the project management life cycle, after the initiation phase, planning phase focuses on creating a roadmap to guide all the project stakeholders and team members during the implementation process (Eby, 2018). The phase typically involves breaking down the project into smaller and easy-to-manage tasks, building the project team, and preparing a schedule for completing the tasks assigned to different teams. It begins by setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely), and CLEAR (Collaborative, Limited, Emotional, Appreciable and Refinable) goals (Eby, 2018). Other important features and/activities of the planning phase, as identified by Bridges (2019), include developing a scope statement, creating a work breakdown schedule, setting milestones, establishing communication plans, developing budget and Gantt chart (timeframe), and performing a risk analysis.

The current activities in the Adani Mine project are synonymous with the aforementioned features of the planning phase. Notably, the Adani group has divided the project into smaller activities – onsite civil engineering, assembly of mining excavators and trucks, and quarry building – so that they can be managed more effectively and with ease (Adani Australia, 2019). These smaller tasks have been assigned to different teams. For instance, onsite civil engineering activities have assigned to Townsville’s Mendi Group, whereas Wagner Group is carrying out quarry building that will support the mining operations, and assembly of mining trucks has been assigned to skilled tradespeople in the city of Mackay in central Queensland. The Adani group also estimates that the mine will extract approximately 2.3 billion tons of coal within 60 years of operation, and that each mining truck will ferry close to 320 tons of coal from mining pit (Slezak, 2018). Such an estimation is a classical feature of the planning phase of the project management life-cycle.          

Sustainability Principle that has been applied to Ensure Sustainable Outcomes

The Adani Mining Group and other key stakeholders involved in the Carmichael coal mine project are striving to support the Australia’s and international sustainable development goals by applying the Triple Bottom Line sustainability principle (TBL, hereafter) in the project. Introduced and developed by economist John Elkington, the TBL framework incorporates three key domains of performance; namely, financial, environmental and social. As Alhaddi (2015) mentions, the principle is built on three pillars: people, planet and profits, and focuses on helping organizations, and project owners and managers to consider both the environmental, social and economic dimensions when implementing large-scale projects. As such, applying TBL in the Carmichael coal mine project ensures that it addresses both the economic, environmental and social advancement, thereby introducing the sustainability element in the project (Arowoshegbe and Emmanuel, 2016).

On the economic advancement dimension, for example, the Adani mine project is set to “generate billions of dollars for government in its first 30 years of operation through mining taxes and royalties”. These revenue earnings will enable the government to build healthcare facilities, learning institutions and transport infrastructure in Queensland, thereby the regions’ economy and social welfare.

Sustainability Requirements of the Key Stakeholders

Key stakeholders in the Adani Mine project include Australian federal government; the Queensland government; the Adani Mining Group; communities in Central Queensland, particularly those living near the Galilee Basin; and environmental activists. Each of these stakeholders has different sustainability requirements as highlighted in table 1 below.


Sustainability Requirements

The Australian and Central Queensland government

·         Increased revenue streams, through taxation, to finance development projects (Adani Australia., 2019).

·         Raise GDP per capita through creation of job opportunities.

Adani Mining Group

·         Meet the organization’s economic objectives and sustain its growth.


Environmental Protection Organizations and Activists

·         Environmental conservation

·         Climate change mitigation

·         Promotion of community health


How Sustainability Requirements are integrated into the Project

The sustainability requirements identified in the previous section – stakeholder assessment – can be classed into three broad categories; that is, economic development/prosperity, environmental protection and conservation, and social advancement. For instance, the requirements of the Central Queensland government and the Adani Mining Group fall under economic prosperity, whereas those of the local communities and environmental protection agencies and activists fall under social advancement and environmental conservation, respectively. This section looks at how these three key stakeholder requirements will be integrated in the Adani Mine project in order to achieve and demonstrate the project’s commitment to sustainability.

  1. Economic Development

As aforementioned, economic prosperity is the key requirement of the Central Queensland government, as one of the major stakeholders in the Adani Mine project. The government believes that by encouraging and supporting coal mining in the Galilee Basin, it will not only increase its revenue streams through taxation and mining royalties, but it will also enable the local communities to meet their economic needs. This perception of the mine is anchored on the realization that similar mining projects, such as the open-cut mining in the Hunter Valley, earned the Australian government approximately A$43 billion between 2011 and 2012, which accounted for close to 3.1% of the country’s overall GDP (Cottle & Keys, 2014). Additionally, the fact that coal is the Australia’s second largest mineral export is a clear indication that the government would want to increase the quantity of coal mined in the country in order to increase its revenue earnings from coal exports. The resulting growth in revenue earnings is set to increase the country’s capacity to finance development of other projects, such as infrastructure and affordable housing, and accordingly accelerate attainment of the UN’s sustainable development goals.

To integrate this stakeholder requirement into the project and demonstrate sustainability, Adani Mining Group will be required to avoid tax evasion – which it has been infamous for – and instead pay all the mining royalties and taxes to both the Australia’s national government and the Central Queensland government, as agreed (Adani Australia; 2019).  

  1. Social Advancement and Wellness

The social advancement and wellness requirement pertain particularly to the local communities; namely, residents of the Central Queensland and those living around the Galilee Basin. TBL places social welfare promotion at the center of sustainable development by requiring large-scale projects to pay attention to social advancement, rather than simply focusing on meeting investors’ economic objectives (Sapukotanage, Warnakulasuriya and Yapa, 2018). What local communities, as another key stakeholder group in the Adani Mine project, want is improved living standards, neighborhoods free from environmental pollutants and illnesses, high income levels to meet their economic needs, sustainable access to clean water and other resources, and preservation of the region’s ecology and ancestral lands for their future generations (Franks, Brereton and Moran, 2010). These needs are consistent with most of the UN’s sustainable development goals that seek to eradicate poverty, protect life on land and in water, and reduce youth unemployment among other goals, by 2030.

Social advancement and welfare promotion are incorporated in the Carmichael mine project in various ways. First, the project owner estimates that the project will employ more than 1,500 Australians of which majority will be locals, and create additional 7,000 once the mine becomes fully functional. This way, it is without doubt that the project will help to improve the living standards of many Australians. Indeed, growing evidence associate coal mining activities with increased income levels among the residents of a given region. Notably, Cottle and Keys (2014) found that the income, and hence living standards of people around the Hunter Valley in New South Wales improved significantly when coal mining operations began in the region as the mine employed 11,350 people in 2011 alone. Second, by paying mining taxes and royalties to the state and national governments, the Carmichael mine project will contribute indirectly to the development of healthcare facilities, transport infrastructure, educational centers and other social amenities in Central Queensland (Adani Australia., 2019). Evidently, this will promote social welfare in the region. 

  • Environmental Conservation

Environmental organizations and activists, as the last group of key stakeholders, will want the project to demonstrate commitment to environmental conversation. According to this stakeholder, the project should have the minimum environmental impact so the ability of future generations to meet their needs is not compromised (Morelli, 2011). This requirement is in line with the 11th goal of the UN’s SDG, which seeks to encourage nations to participate in climate change mitigation efforts by coming with ways of reducing their ecological footprint.

The requirement also supports incorporation of the TBL’s third pillar – planet/environment protection – in the project (Alhaddi, 2015). Some of the key areas where the Carmichael mine project is highly contested relate to its potential to damage the Great Barrier Reef as well as disrupt the water table and aquifers of the Great Artesian Basin (Stop Adani, 2020). It is also feared that construction of the mine will disrupt ancestral lands and other forms of heritage in the region. More importantly, environmental agencies and activists dread that, once fully operational, the coal mine will emit thousands of tons of dust particles, greenhouse gases and other atmospheric pollutants that will not only exacerbate the ongoing climate change crisis, but will also expose locals to dozens of environmental illnesses (Slezak, M., 2018). This perception toward coal mining is conditioned by the impacts of existing coal mines, such as the open-cut mining in the Hunter Valley in NSW and other mines in the Bowen Basin, as Rolfe, Ivanova and Lockie (2006) established.

Project managers of the Carmichael mine are addressing this requirement by conducting a comprehensive environmental impact assessment at every stage of the project. This practice is supported by Glasson and Therivel (2013) who maintain that the essence is to identify potential environmental risks, and accordingly formulate strategic measures to minimize their impacts.          

How the Outcomes are Measured

Various tools are being used to measure outcomes of the Carmichael mine project. For the three requirements: economic prosperity, social advancement, and environmental conservation, three tools to measure their outcomes are budget estimate, corporate social responsibility (CSR) report, and environment impact statement (EIS), respectively. To begin with, budget estimate is being used to approximate the overall cost of the project as well as its economic benefits to both the investor, the government and other stakeholders. With the help of budget estimates, for example, Adani Mining Pty Ltd has determined that it will spend more than $1 billion in contracts for the construction of the coal mine and the rail project. Budget estimate also shows that the project will generate billions of dollars for the government, through taxes and mining royalties during the first 30 years of operation (Adani Australia., 2019).

Regarding EIS, Adani has prepared a statement of the environmental impact assessment activities performed between 2010 and 2015. The statement was prepared after public consultation conducted between the late 2012 and 2013, and in accordance with the requirements of the Commonwealth Australia, the federal government and the state government of Queensland. The statement’s key objective is to mitigate and possibly avoid potential negative impacts to the social, environmental and economic values, thereby enhancing positive outcomes. By preparing the EIS and CSR reports annually, Adani is positioned to demonstrate to the public and other concerned stakeholders the measures being taken to address their sustainability requirements (Franks, Brereton and Moran, 2010).         

Potential Improvements

Stakeholder needs assessment reveals various opportunity gaps in the Adani mine project, as far as meeting sustainability requirements of the local community and environmentalists is concerned. Adani mine project, like other coal mining projects, has attractive economic and social advancement prospects (Petkova, Lockie Rolfe and Ivanova, 2009). However, it is being contested on the grounds that it will contribute to air pollution, GHG emissions, loss of biodiversity, land use changes, disruption of ancestral lands, depletion of water and other vital resources, and cause environmental illnesses (Chadwick, Highton and Lindman, 2013). To reduce opposition around these perceived impacts, Adani Group should go beyond the economic dimension of the TBL and focus on incorporating the UN’s 17 SDGs in the project (Franks, Brereton and Moran, 2010). The integration should principally focus on goals one, three, six, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, and fifteen (United Nations, 2020). Table 2 below shows how incorporating these eight goals in the project will improve the way Adani demonstrates sustainability across all the three domains of sustainability.

Table 2: How the UN’s SDGs in the Adani Mine Project can improve its Commitment to Sustainability


How Incorporating The Goal Will Improve The Project’s Focus On Sustainability

Goal 1: No poverty

Prioritize local workers to end poverty in the surrounding communities.

Goal 3: Good Health And Wellbeing

Ensure healthy lives of locals by reducing dust and other environmental pollutants caused by mining activities.

Goal 6: Clean Water And Sanitation

Ensure sustainable availability of clean water by minimizing the project’s impacts on the aquifers of the Great Artesian Basin

Goal 7: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Educate locals on how to avoid environmental illnesses in order to make the community safe, resilient and sustainable

Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

Promote sustainable production of coal and other minerals in the region 

Goal 13: Climate Action

Contribute to climate change mitigation action by taking measures to limit GHG emission and other atmospheric pollutants

cal Communit

Whether the Project is Following the Best Practice

The Adani mine project is currently in the planning phase, and is so far following the best practice. First, the project plans to transport coal to “Abbot Point Port via a 200 km rail line and existing rail infrastructure” (Adani Australia, 2019), which is the same way other coal mines in Queensland have been operating responsibly and safely for over 30 years. Second, the project has performed a formal environmental assessment, which involve public consultation to ensure approval of both the Federal and State government requirements. Moreover, Adani group, in accordance with the Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 Approval for the Carmichael Coal Mine and the Commonwealth Environment Protection, publishes all the management plans, reports and programs on its website at least one month prior to their approval. Between 2012 and 2019, for instance, the project published several reports on groundwater management, national environmental significance, biodiversity offset strategy note, offset area management plans, and the Great Artesian Basin Offset strategy (Adani Australia, 2020).


Adani mine (the Carmichael coal mine) project is a highly contested coal mining project in the northern Galilee Basin in Central Queensland. The project is currently in the planning phase, and the Triple Bottom Line sustainability principle being applied to ensure sustainable outcomes. Key stakeholders in the project include Australian federal government; the Queensland government; the Adani Mining Group; communities near the Galilee Basin; and environmentalists. The requirements of these stakeholders range from economic prosperity to increased income levels, access to social welfare, community from environmental illnesses, preservation of the Black-throated Finch and the Great Barrier Reef, conservation of aquifers of the Great Artesian Basin and the water table, and climate change mitigation. The project’s performance and outcomes in these requirements will be measured using such tools as budget estimates, CSR reports and environmental impact statement. Since the project has attracted high controversy concerning its potential negative impacts to the environment, it can improve its sustainability practice by incorporating the UN’s SDGs, rather than simply focusing on meeting the project’s economic objectives.         



·         Increased income levels to meet both the present and future needs.

·         Adequate access to social welfare facilities

·         Environment free of pollution and related environmental illnesses.

·         Preservation of the region’s heritage and ecology, including the Black-throated Finch and the Great Barrier Reef (Stop Adani, 2020).

·         Conservation of water and other natural resources, particularly aquifers of the Great Artesian Basin.

·         Protect and preserve ancestral lands and culture


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Adani Australia. (2020). Plans, Reports and Strategies. Retrieved September 29, 2020,             from https://www.adaniaustralia.com/projects-businesses/mine-environment-          reporting#environmental

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Eby, K. 2018, May 29. Demystifying the 5 phases of project management.             Retrieved September 27, 2020, from https://www.smartsheet.com/blog/demystifying-5-       phases-project-management

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Hall. (2019, June 13). ‘We’re ready to start work’: Adani mine passes final environmental    approval. ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Retrieved September 29, 2020,       from https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-06-13/adani-carmichael-coal-mine-approved- water-management-galilee/11203208

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Sapukotanage, S., Warnakulasuriya, B.N.F. and Yapa, S.T.W.S., 2018. Outcomes of Sustainable Practices: A Triple Bottom Line Approach to Evaluating Sustainable Performance of   Manufacturing Firms in a Developing Nation in South Asia. International Business     Research11(12), pp.89-104.

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Stop Adani. 2020. 5 reasons to #StopAdani. Retrieved August 13, 2020, from             https://www.stopadani.com/5_reasons_to_stop_adani

United Nations. (2020). The 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Department of Economic and     Social Affairs. Retrieved September 29, 2020, from https://sdgs.un.org/goals


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