GVK's giant coal mining project in Australia gets federal approval

Australia`s federal government has granted approval to India`s GVK group for its gigantic coal mining project in Queensland state, in the country`s northeast. Environment minister Greg Hunt on Friday announced the government's decision to approve the 37,380 hectare Kevin`s Corner project.

-GVK had, in late 2011, acquired a 100-per cent stake in the Kevin's Corner project in Queensland from Hancock Prospecting Pvt Ltd and a 79-per cent stake in the Alpha Coal and Alpha West Coal projects.

The Kevin's Corner coal mine is situated 50 kilometres north of the town of Alpha in Queensland.

The combined Galilee Basin projects will create one of the largest coal mining operations in the world, with total resources of 8 billion tonnes and a peak output capacity of around 80 million tonnes per annum.

"We commend the Federal government on its thorough environmental assessment process and its decision to approve this significant project that will create immense employment opportunities," GVK Reddy, founder chairman and managing director of the Indian conglomerate, said in a media release.

"This approval comes as a major milestone towards our goal of becoming the premier and most reliable coal supplier to the world thus enabling better lives.

"It further strengthens our commitment to deliver world-class infrastructure projects in a timely and responsible manner," Reddy said.

The Kevin's Corner Project is an advanced coal project and has a mine life in excess of 30 years with a capacity to produce up to 30 million tonne per annum of export quality thermal coal.

Earlier, the Queensland Government had provided environmental clearance for this project in May 2013 and the Alpha Mine and Rail projects in 2012.

And, in August 2012, GVK's Alpha Coal Project gained federal government approval under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC).

Following a rigorous and thorough assessment process by two levels of government spanning four years, federal environment ministry gave an approval decision to construct and operate the Alpha Coal Mine and a railway line between the mine and the port at Abbot Point, near Bowen.

Queensland Resources Council acting chief executive Greg Lane has welcomed the approval of the largest coal mining project in Australia, which would create an estimated 1,800 construction jobs and 1,600 operational jobs.

He said, the GVK-owned project would help "improve living standards for millions of people in India" besides opening up "one of world`s most exciting new coal provinces.

"GVK is to be congratulated for its commitment to this project in the toughest operating environment that the Queensland coal industry has faced this century," Greg Lane said.

The A$4.2-billion project would rely on the railway infrastructure to be constructed by the Alpha Coal project to transport coal to the Port of Abbot Point in Bowen.

Some environmental organisations like Greenpeace have slammed the federal government`s approval to GVK-Hancock mega coal mining projects.

The Kevin`s Corner project will use more than nine billion litres of water a year, according to the group.

GVK`s Kevin`s Corner mining project is the first to be approved since the introduction of a new water trigger rule introduced by the Greens supported previous federal government.

Construction on the GVK-Hancock coal mine is expected to commence in 2015 and production three years hence.