Adani has pleaded guilty to giving “false or misleading documents to an administering authority”.
The company’s Australian arm, Adani Mining Pty Ltd, is listed for sentencing today in the Brisbane Magistrates Court.
It faces a fine of up to $3 million if convicted under the Environmental Protection Act.
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.”
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