Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani on Tuesday gave the final investment approval for the stuck A$21.7 billion coal mine project in Australia's Queensland state, giving hope to a near-dead project that many still consider as ill-conceived.
''I am proud to announce the project has Final Investment Decision (FID) approval, which marks the official start of one of the largest single infrastructure - and job creating - developments in Australia's recent history,'' Adani said.
Adani also agreed to pay full royalties on the coal produced from the project, as demanded by the state government, to facilitate a forward momentum in the controversy-hit project.
This is a historic day for Adani, a historic day for regional Queensland, and a historic day for Indian investment in Australia, Adani said.
''This is the largest single investment by an Indian corporation in Australia, and I believe others will follow with investments and trade deals,'' the Adani Group chairman said.
''We have been challenged by activists in the courts, in inner city streets, and even outside banks that have not even been approached to finance the project. We are still facing activists. But we are committed to this project,'' Adani said, adding that the group is committed to Queensland and to addressing energy poverty in India.
The Carmichael project will generate 10,000 direct and indirect jobs, with pre-construction works starting in the September quarter 2017, Adani said.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today officially opened Adani's Regional Headquarters (RHQ) in Townsville from where the company will oversee the construction and operations of the project.
The regional headquarters will also accommodate Adani's Remote Operations Centre, the first time that such a centre has been set up in an Australian regional city.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was represented at the ceremony by the Federal Minister for Northern Australia and Resources, Senator Matt Canavan.
Adani has already invested A$3.3 billion in the project, including buying the bulk coal handling port of Abbot Point, Adani Australia head of country and chief executive Jeyakumar Janakaraj said.
Adani on Tuesday also signed letters of award for design, construction, operations, supply of materials and professional services.
The Carmichael project has been battling opposition from environmentalists and indigenous groups for more than five years, who say the project would destroy local fauna and flora and its expansion into the Abbot Point port will cut into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
It is not clear whether Adani has secured finance to build the mine.
Also, the federal government will still need to pass changes to the Native Title Act, to make a decision on whether to provide a $1 billion concessional loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility.
The loan would help pay for a new 189 km rail line to link the mine to the coal terminal at Abbot Point.
If it goes ahead, the $21.7 billion Carmichael mine near Rockhampton will be one of the biggest in the world.
It will include six open-cut pits and five underground mines across an area five times the size of Sydney Harbour. Coal mined at the site will be sent to India via the waterfront coal terminal at Abbot Point.
The giant mine will generate so much extra coal, the terminal south of Townsville will need to be expanded to accommodate it.
The proposed railway line would be open to other users, with minister for Northern Australia senator Matt Canavan saying it had the potential to spur at least another three mining ventures. "The level of wealth that could be unlocked is comparable to that of the Hunter Valley or the Bowen Basin," Canavan said.
Central Queensland has been heavily hit by job losses in the mining downturn of recent years and so the project is considered a boon for jobs in the area, particularly Townsville, where major employer Queensland Nickel collapsed last year, taking 800 jobs with it.
The company has said the project, at an initial cost of $4 billion, would pay billions of dollars in royalties and taxes, create jobs and export coal to India help bring electricity to rural regions.
The controversy-hit Carmichael coal mine project is one of the world's largest. The project, which involves dredging 1.1 million cubic metres of spoil near the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park to be later disposed off on land, received approval in April for a water licence from Queensland state government.
The 400-kilometre railway line would link Carmichael coal mine in Queenslands Galilee Basin to the port at Abbot Point, north of Bowen town.
The company has also signed a 74 million dollar landmark deal with Australian steel group Arrium on 4 May to buy steel for the rail line.