Adani Mining is a step closer to the development of its US$1.94-billion Queensland coal mining and transportation project in Australia after the federal government approved construction of a rail-haulage line.
The Australian unit of Adani Enterprises needed the approval of Environment Minister Greg Hunt to proceed with the 300-km line after last month gaining clearance from the state of Queensland (See: Adani gets Queensland nod for mine-rail project).
The North Galilee Basin Rail project is being designed to connect collieries owned by Adani and potentially other developers in the largely unpopulated Galilee Basin to the east coast port of Abbot Point.
Despite analysts' views that Adani's project would be unprofitable at current coal prices, the company remains committed to pushing ahead with it in order to export coal to power-starved India.
The country is home to the world's fifth-largest coal reserves – and its state-owned monopoly Coal India Ltd is the world's biggest producer of the carbon fuel. Nonetheless it needs to import coal amid its perpetual electricity shortage, with most plants running short of the fuel.
''Today's approval is a significant milestone in the life of our integrated mine, rail and port project, helping transition from approvals to the build phase,'' Jeyakumar Janakaraj, Adani's chief executive officer for mining operations, said.
Environmental groups have protested against Adani and Indian company GVK Hancock developing mines in the Galilee Basin as it could require dumping sand within the boundaries of the Great Barrier Reef to allow for the expansion of a nearby coal port.
Earlier this month, Adani and GVK Hancock agreed to resubmit proposals offering alternative dumping sites.