Despite conservationists' concerns, last Friday Australia’s environment minister, Greg Hunt, approved mining billionaire Clive Palmer’s China First coalmine. The mine, planned for Queensland’s Galilee Basin, will have the capacity to produce 40 million tons of coal per year, triggering an estimated 85.6 million tons of CO2 when the coal is burned. Approval for the project came with 49 conditions. Among them, Palmer must contribute $100,000 per year for 10 years to a fund for threatened species, and his company will have to secure 10,000 hectares of protected land to offset the damage done by the mine. Despite these concessions, environmentalists oppose the mine for the damage it will to do the Bimblebox Nature Refuge—home to several endangered species—and for the amount of groundwater it will use. A study released last week by Oxford University casts doubt on whether the mine will actually be built, citing low international coal prices. For the full story, see and