Queensland approves huge coal mine

May 9, 2014

Adani Enterprises, an Indian mining conglomerate, won approval the government of Queensland to build its Carmichael coal mine.

The A$16.5 billion mine, which could eventually be the largest coal mine in Australia, and rail project in the Galilee Basin is designed to produce 60 Mt/a (66 million stpy) of thermal coal for power stations. It has been the focus of opposition by green groups fighting the approval of new mines as well as the rail lines and ports needed to ship the coal, The Guardian report.

"This project has the potential to be the largest coal mine in Australia and one of the largest in the world," Queensland's deputy premier Jeff Seeny said.

The state's report, which set 190 conditions for Adani to meet, including compensating landholders affected by any harm to water supplies, now goes to Australia's environment minister for a final decision.

The conglomerate's chairman, Gautam Adani, welcomed the approval, saying the firm could now move to the next stage of the project.

The company still faces challenges stalling progress on the project, not the least of which is raising the money needed to build the mine, rail and port for the coal.

The port that Adani plans to use, Abbot Point, is facing a legal challenge from environmentalists fighting expansion plans that would involve dredging up 3 million m3 of sand and dumping it near the Great Barrier Reef.

Green groups have criticized the economics of the project as well, highlighting that getting coal out of the Galilee Basin, which is nearly 500 km (310 miles) from any port, will be a loss-making prospect if thermal coal prices stay where they are, below $75/t.

"Carmichael coal is low-energy-content and high-ash, such that the mine proposal will continue to be challenged by permanently low thermal coal market prices," said Tim Buckley, a former head of equity research at Citigroup who is now a director of the US-based Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, which is campaigning against fossil fuels.


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