Mining giant Adani's failure to report on land clearing was a mistake by a well-resourced company that should not have happened.
That was Brisbane magistrate Stephen Courtney's finding when he sentenced the company to a $20,000 fine on Thursday.
Adani's offence was not reporting in its 2017/2018 annual return that it cleared 5.8 hectares of land at its controversial Carmichael coal mine site.
The company had been entitled to clear the land.
Mr Courtney accepted the error was a "failure in the company's systems" but he added that Adani was a large, well-resourced company.
"This mistake just should not have happened," Mr Courtney said.
The company pleaded guilty to the offence on Thursday after the Department of Environment and Science prosecuted under environmental protection laws.
Six months after submitting the original return, Adani admitted it had made an administrative error by reporting that it had not cleared any land.
The updated information Adani provided to the government said 5.8 hectares had been disturbed at the central Queensland mine during the reporting period.
The mining giant was ordered to pay the fine and $6000 in costs within seven days. No conviction was recorded.
Adani Australia says no environmental harm was caused and "we are pleased this matter is now resolved".
The charge carries a maximum penalty of $3 million, but prosecutors sought a fine of about $25,000.
The Environmental Defenders Office has called on the government to consider cancelling or suspending Adani's suitable operator registration due to the result.
The offence has prompted calls from the Greens for the federal government to revoke the coal mine's approval.
"A criminal conviction is a legal trigger for the federal government to review and revoke Adani's approval," Senator Larissa Waters said.
It's not the first time the company has been fined.
Adani's Abbot Point coal facility was penalised more than $12,000 in 2017 for releasing water during Cyclone Debbie that contained eight times more sediment than allowed.
The company was granted a temporary emissions licence during the cyclone to allow stormwater to be released due to high rainfall.
The company self-reported it had breached the strict conditions of the licence.
Australian Associated Press