Melbourne, Australia: Australian government on Monday approved Indian businessman Gautam Adani’s firm – Adani Mining (P) Ltd and gave a go ahead for its A$16.5 billion ($15.5 billion) Carmichael coal and rail project in Queensland, subject to strict conditions to protect groundwater.The Carmichael mine, which is poised to become Australia’s largest coal mine at 60 million tonnes a year, had been in the centre of controversies and had sparked protests from green groups and marine tour operators, who expressed their concerns and worries about carbon pollution and export of the coal from a port near the Great Barrier Reef.
Despite the adverse conditions and challenges regarding environmental issues, Adani and compatriot GVK, which is working on a rival Galilee Basin coal project with Australia’s richest woman, Gina Rinehart, are still planning to build large new mines, rail lines and a port terminal. Adani expressed his satisfaction over the deal and said, ‘We welcome the Minister’s approval of the Carmichael Mine and Rail project, which takes us another step closer to delivering our multi–billion dollar mine, rail and port development.’
The environmental conditions imposed on Adani’s project were revolving around concerns raised by landowners who were worried that coal projects in the area would affect groundwater supply from the Great Artesian Basin.To solve these issues, the Australian government coded strict norms and added the parameters while approving the Carmichael coal project deal. ‘The strict conditions will ensure the protection of the environment as a paramount concern,’ Australia’s environment minister, Greg Hunt, said in a statement.
Greenpeace lined outs its apprehensions regarding this project and said the conditions imposed on the project would do little to protect the environment from the bigger impact of shipping through the World Heritage-listed reef and burning the huge amounts of coal the mine will produce.’A massive coal mine that will damage the Great Barrier Reef and do damage to the local environment and fuel climate change is not protecting the environment,’ said Ben Pearson, Australia Pacific program director for Greenpeace.
The Carmichael coal lode is in the outback Galilee Basin, where massive reserves of coal remain untapped due to the hefty costs of building ports and rail lines to the east coast nearly 500 kilometers (310 miles) away. Stumbling blocks have built up for this project have increased as coal prices have sunk to near five-year lows. Additionally, global pressure to cut coal to curb carbon emissions has stoked uncertainty over long-term demand, making it tough to raise funds for projects.