One of the most bitterly contested coal mines in the world may break ground in a matter of weeks after voters in Australia delivered a stunning defeat to the Labor party.
After the opposition Labor party suffered heavy losses in coal-mining regions in Australian federal elections, the Galilee Basin coal mine, being developed by Adani Mining Pty., looks to be getting closer than ever to approval.
Queensland Primer Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk said firm deadlines have been set to settle two state approvals Adani needs to proceed with its Galilee Basin coal mine.
There should be a decision on Adani’s plan to protect an endangered finch by May 31, and on its ground water management plan by June 13, Australia’s News.com reported.
The premier stepped in after federal Labor’s bruising defeat in regional Queensland electorates that want the jobs associated with the mine. She said she was fed up with delays that have plagued the approvals process and acknowledged regional Queenslanders were too.
Palaszczuk hailed the deadlines as a breakthrough that should finally see things resolved.
“I know initially people thought this was months, what I’m announcing today (is) it’s a matter of weeks,” Palaszczuk told reporters in Cairns. “Everyone needs to have these issues resolved ... this is good news.” Palaszczuk was asked if Adani would deliver all the jobs it had promised, after the construction arm of the CFMEU raised concerns about mine automation and workers being shipped in from India.
But the premier said it was up to Adani to tell the people of Queensland about jobs.
Adani Australia CEO Lucas Dow rubbished the union’s concerns. “There’s no automation contemplated on our project; were not engaging with 457 visas, were talking about jobs for Queenslanders,” he said.
The Queensland Resources Council has said the mine will create 1500 ongoing jobs and another 6750 during its construction.
The CSIRO will still need to sign off on the ground water management plan should it get state approval.
There are also some outstanding federal approvals, ongoing legal challenges and a rolling dispute with some indigenous owners.
But Adani considers the outstanding Queensland approvals as the greatest threat to its planned mine, which is expected to produce 10 Mt/a (11 million stpy). Adani has repeatedly accused the state Labor government of delaying the mine, and changing the goal posts for its bird and groundwater plans. It says the government has been reviewing various versions of its groundwater management plan for more than two years.
Over the same time frame, seven versions of the finch management plan have been submitted for input and review, with a decision yet to be made.