The Australian government granted environmental approval for the Carmichael coal mine and rail project. The $16.5 billion project will be one of the largest coal mines in the world, producing about 60 Mt/a (66 million stpy), The Guardian reported.
Australian environment minister, Greg Hunt approved the project with 36 conditions, primarily aimed at protecting ground water, on the massive project that will include open pit and underground mining operations.
India’s Adani group will build the project.
Coal will be taken via a new rail line to the port of Abbot Point, north of Bowen, where Adani already has approval to build a coal export terminal.
The Carmichael mine, which was given the green light by the Queensland government in May, has been fiercely opposed by environmentalists due to its potential impact upon the reef, ground water at its site and its hefty carbon emissions.
Adani estimates the mine itself will produce about 3 Gt (3.3 billion st) of CO2 emissions over its 60-year lifespan. This is due to “fugitive” emissions, which are released during the mining process.
The approval of the Carmichael Mine is a major step in the opening of the vast, coal-rich Galilee Basin region. There are a total of nine mining projects planned for the area.
Hunt said the conditions he has imposed ensure Adani “meets the highest environmental standards and that all impacts, including cumulative impacts, are avoided, mitigated or offset”.
“The absolute strictest of conditions have been imposed to ensure the protection of the environment, with a specific focus on the protection of ground water,” he said.
Hunt said the project will have a value of $5 billion a year over the next 60 years, adding $2.97 billion to the Queensland economy a year over this period.
It is estimated the Carmichael mine will also create 2,475 construction jobs and a further 3,920 jobs once the project is operational in 2017.
Adani will be required to ensure at least 730 megalitres of water are returned to the environment every year for five years.
The company will also have to monitor the condition of ground water, offset the impact of cleared habitat and assess the impact to threatened species. Conservationists have warned that critical habitat for the endangered black-throated finch will be bulldozed for the mine.