Adani gets final nod for its Australian coal mine
13 June 2019
Adani Enterprises has cleared the final hurdle for its $15 billion Australian mine project with the state government of Queensland granting environmental approval allowing work to start on its Carmichael mine in Central Queensland.
After nearly nine years of planning, fierce protests and endless political debate, Queensland's Environment Department approved the mine's groundwater management plan today, allowing Adani to ramp up construction work at the Galilee Basin.
Adani’s Carmichael mine project, with a planned capacity to produce 8-10 million tonnes of thermal coal a year, has been at the receiving end of climate change protests in Australia and elsewhere.
Adani had to change its production plans at least a dozen times over the past 18 months in order to meet key environmental requirements, including a plan to avoid destroying one of the world's last unspoiled desert oases, the Doongmabulla Springs Complex.
Adani had also, last year, scaled back its initial plans for a 60 million tonne per year mine and has said that it will self-fund the project, backed by ready buyers in its own Indian power plants and its trading business.
Queensland's Department of Environment and Science said in a statement it had approved Adani's Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan following a rigorous assessment “based on the best available science.”
However, the miner has been asked to do further investigation and install a new bore to rule out whether the Permian aquifers (Colinlea) was also a source.
It will also be required to do further work over the next two years to identify any other potential source, by using detailed hydrogeochemical analysis of groundwater from different springs, isotopic analysis, air sampling and examinations of core samples from new bores.
Adani has said that is ready to start construction “within days” of receiving the permit for its Carmichael mine that would produce 8-10 million tonnes of thermal coal a year, and cost up to $1.5 billion.
The approval potentially paves the way for half a dozen new thermal coal mines to come on line in Australia by opening up Queensland's remote Galilee basin with rail infrastructure to the coast 320 km away at Abbot Point. Holders of other coal deposits in the basin include some of Australia's wealthiest iron ore magnates such as Gina Rinehart, who has a joint venture with India's GVK Group, and controversial one-term politician Clive Palmer.
The approval comes as other developed nations step up strategies to meet Paris Agreement emissions targets, and as many banks and insurers scale back exposure to coal and to new thermal coal mines in particular.
Thermal coal is mainly used for power generation and is being increasingly replaced by renewable energy sources.