The federal court has ruled that environment minister Greg Hunt ignored his own department’s advice in approving the North Queensland site for Adani’s Carmichael coalmine, and it’s not the first time he’s made such a mistake.

Despite concerns for two vulnerable species in the region  – the yakka skink and the ornamental snake – Hunt gave his approval for the project anyway a move that the Mackay Conservation Group (who brought the case against the government) have called a repeat of the same mistake he made on a proposal for a mine in the Tarkine in 2013.

Is there anyone left actually believing these ‘mistakes’ are of the genuine variety? You just have to look at the language of Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche to gain insight into the current mentality of the mineral resources industry and the politicians that support it. In a press release that lambasts delays to the Carmichael mine’s approvals  (or the ‘technical administrative hitch’, as it has been labelled) Roche beseeches the government to “to step up and close the loopholes that enable these actions and the resulting negative impacts on our industry, not only in Queensland, but right across the country”. He also describes those environmental groups that bring the sort of legal action against the government over mining activities as “highly motivated and well-funded activists”.

Personally, I can’t recall the last time I encountered an activist who isn’t “highly motivated”, but it is telling that Roche would highlight the funding of the groups that campaigned for this outcome.

Beyond just the Mackay Conservation Group, other organisations such as the Australian Conservation Foundation and GetUp! have also taken part in applying sustained pressure against the Carmichael mine, among many other potentially damaging projects around the country. In some cases they share the workload and pool resources in order to improve their chances. Not only are these groups better able to organise and communicate via digital platforms and social media networks, they’re able to fundraise more effectively through online crowdfunding platforms.

If we look at the Shenhua mine, which threatens prime agricultural land rather than native habitat, we see a case where farmers are beginning to find themselves more frequently on the environmentalist’s side of the fence, where traditionally they may have been in opposition. The sheer weight of public sentiment is clearly stacked against the mining lobby – particularly when related to coal and coal seam gas (CSG) – and the coalition government that continues to toe the industry line.

Worse still for the Abbott government, it would appear that even the international investors, who were once lining up for access to land and its resources, are beginning to reconsider their options. For the Carmichael project, Adani have yet to secure any backers for the mine and have been forced to cut the workforce they had planned to use in developing their mine. Yesterday, agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce highlighted the depressed state of coal prices on the international market as an indicator of the sustainability of our local industry.

We know that the Carmichael mine isn’t yet completely off the table, with the environment minister’s office indicating that the required paperwork for the approvals could be amended and resubmitted in a matter of weeks. But that won’t stop “highly motivated” groups from vehemently opposing the development. It won’t magically reverse sliding global prices for coal. Nor will it prevent our obligatory shift away from a heavy dependence on fossil fuels, both locally and abroad.

As we rapidly look towards a future of renewable energy, this latest decision from our federal court should act to bring the writing that’s currently on the coalition’s wall into sharp relief. But will they heed the message?