The federal government has reapproved Adani Group’s plans for a major coal mine and rail line in Queensland, injecting momentum into a multibillion-dollar project that had snagged on environmental concerns and the global commodity price slump.
Owner: India-based Adani.
Specifics: A total of 16 open cuts mines will be developed over the 60 years. There will be three underground longwall mines.
Output: It will produce 60 million tonnes a year at its peak for about 60 years. It will be Australia’s biggest coal mine.
Exports: Coal will be exported to India to generate electricity primarily at Adani’s own power stations.
Jobs: Estimated 10,000 new jobs at its peak including electricians, plumbers, fitters, builders, plant operators, drivers, geologists and mining engineers.
Area: The mine covers 44,700ha of mostly grazing land once owned by the Acton family and sold to Adani for $110 million.
Rail link: Adani and POSCO will build a $2 billion rail line to link with existing line to the port at Abbot Point, which will be expanded.
Adani's $16.5 billion Carmichael mine approval was met with strict conditions, but the project is expected to be subject to a new legal challenge from environmental groups.
As speculation mounts about whether Adani will pull the plug on the mega-mine in Central Queensland due to a lack of funds, federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt said new approval was granted with 36 conditions following consultation with Adani and environmental groups.
"The conditions I have imposed take into account issues raised by the community and ensure that the proponent must meet the highest environmental standards," Mr Hunt said in a statement.
The conditions include strict monitoring of groundwater, the protection of 31,000 hectares of habitat for the southern black-throated finch habitat and the requirement of $1 million of funding over 10 years for research programs to improve conservation of threatened species in the Galilee Basin.
Mr Hunt has also remade the approval for Adani's rail line to Abbot Point in North Queensland to "provide investment certainty".
Adani Australian boss Jeyakumar Janakaraj said in April that the company was ready to get the first boots on the ground as soon as federal approval was granted for the dredging program and its board of directors give the green light. He said “absolutely, work on the ground’’ will start soon after that.
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 in 2017.
Downer has already been awarded the $2 billion construction contract if Adani commits.
“We are not talking after two years or long term. It’s near term and it’s a good opportunity to capitalise.’’ 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.
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