Adani's $15.5-bn Australian coal project gets federal approval

The Australian government on Monday granted final approval for the Adani group's controversial Carmichael mine project, which could become Australia's largest coal mine producing 60 million tonnes a year.

Clearance for the $15.5 billion Carmichael coal and rail project in Queensland, however, is subject to strict conditions to protect groundwater.

Gujarat-based Adani Mining Pty Ltd overcame opposition by green groups and marine tour operators who were concerned that export of coal from a port near the Great Barrier Reef would affect their business.

''After undertaking a thorough assessment and consideration under national environment law, I have approved the Carmichael coal mine and rail infrastructure project, subject to 36 strict conditions. The absolute strictest of conditions have been imposed to ensure the protection of the environment, with a specific focus on the protection of groundwater,'' Australia's minister for the environment Greg Hunt said in a media statement.

"The strict conditions will ensure the protection of the environment as a paramount concern," Australia's environment minister,'' he added.

Adani proposes to transport coal from the Carmichael mine via a 400-km railway line to Abbot Port, where the company owns a shipping terminal, for export to India.

The Adani Group's venture into Australia commenced in 2010 with the purchase of the Greenfield Carmichael Coal Mine in the Galilee Basin, Central Queensland, and the Port of Abbot Point near Bowen in North Queensland.

Adani acquired the port, which is near the Great Barrier Reef, in 2011 and it will have to be expanded in order to ship the coal. Adani had earlier indicated that coal production from the Carmichael Mine may commence in FY18-19.

According to the company, the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project will deliver many benefits to the local, state and national economies. 

''At full export capacity, the project is expected to contribute almost $930 million to the Mackay region's gross regional product and $2.97 billion to the Queensland economy each year for the next 60 years. It will generate an estimated 2,475 construction jobs and a further 3,920 jobs during the operations phase,'' Hunt said in a statement posted on the government's website.