The Queensland State Government has granted environmental approval to build Australia's largest coal mine, the Galilee Basin Carmichael coal mine. However, developer Adani still needs to find $16 billion in funding for the project, as well as secure a mining licence in Queensland.
The Environment Department issued 140 conditions late on Tuesday, nine of which related to the protection of the black-throated finch, as required by the Land Court in December after a case brought forward by a conservation group.
"The [Department of Environment and Heritage Protection] is confident the strict conditions ... will ensure this mine will not pose an unacceptable risk to the environment and any potential impacts will be closely monitored," - The Department of Environment and Heritage Project
The $16 billion mine, rail and port project has been marred by protracted legal challenges but has now secured environmental permits from the state and federal governments.
A spokesperson from Adani urged the Queensland Government to prevent any further delay to the granting of the final mining lease.
"While a welcome development, it is now critical that the State Government works actively with us and ensures no further delays can be made to final approvals such as the granting of a mining lease," it said.
"Progress on these approvals is crucial in ensuring the jobs and economic benefits from these projects can flow to regional Queensland at a time these opportunities are sorely needed." - Adani Spokesperson
However, the Queensland Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said a number of statutory obligations needed to be addressed before the Minister would consider granting the lease. These include compensation agreements with remaining landholders and local governments over affected roads in central Queensland.
Two court cases, from traditional owners and the Australian Conservation Foundation, are still ongoing.
The ACF alleges federal environment minister Greg Hunt failed to account for the impact of emissions from Carmichael coal, which some analysts have argued could blow the world’s “carbon budget” to keep temperature rises below the 2C limit recently agreed at the Paris climate conference.
Adani still needs to obtain significant bank funding to realise its $16.5bn mine, rail and port project.
It must convince the Queensland government it has obtained “financial closure” before it will be allowed to begin dredging near Great Barrier Reef waters to expand the Abbot Point export facility.
Scope of the project, contractor and job opportunities
The mine which alone would cost about $4.1bn to build, consisting of six open-cut pits and up to five underground mines, would produce up to 60m tonnes of thermal coal a year for sale in Asian electricity markets, notably to Adani’s own generators in India.
The project is estimated to produce 10,000 new jobs at its peak including electricians, plumbers, fitters, builders, plant operators, drivers, geologists and mining engineers.
The early construction works of what will be Australia’s biggest coal mine will generate about 400 jobs, but 4150 jobs are predicted in construction and another 3800 when the mine starts operating.
The jobs would effectively compensate for almost half the 10,000 jobs lost in the coal industry since the boom ended, but almost all the jobs at Carmichael mine will be fly-in, fly-out because the closest town, Clermont, is 160km away.
Downer Group has already received two Letters of award from Adani advising of its intention to enter into contracts in relation to the Coal Handling and Preparation Plant (CHPP) at the proposed Carmichael Coal Mine in Central Queensland.
The first Letter of Award relates to the engineering, procurement and construction works for the CHPP with the project to be delivered by a joint venture between Downer and POSCO Engineering and Construction Australia Pty Ltd. This contract will be valued at approximately $420 million.
The second Letter of Award relates to the operations and maintenance activities for the CHPP to be performed by Downer, with an estimated value of $260 million over the initial five year term with two additional one year options.
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