Environment Minister Greg Hunt has approved Australia’s largest coal mine – Adani’s Carmichael Coal.
In an announcement issued yesterday, Minister Hunt said that the coal mine – proposed by Indian mining giant Adani – has been granted approval “in accordance with national environment law subject to 36 of the strictest conditions in Australian history.”
“In making this decision I have considered additional information provided by Adani and environmental groups, including the Mackay Conservation Group, the Environmental Defenders Office and the Australian Conservation Foundation,” Minister Hunt said.
The approval is conditional on Adani implementing all advice from the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development (IESC) and improving 31,000 hectares of natural habitat for the southern black-throated finch. This will also require $1 million of funding for research programmes to improve conservation of the threatened species in the Galilee Basin. The department has also asked for the protection of Doongmabulla Springs through strict monitoring of groundwater.
Mr Hunt said all measures put forward must be approved before mining could start.
“The rigorous conditions will protect threatened species and provide long-term benefits for the environment through the development of an offset package. I have the power to suspend or revoke the approval and strict penalties apply if there is a breach of the strict conditions. Department of Environment compliance and enforcement officers will closely monitor the operation of the mine,” Minister Hunt said.
“I have also remade the approval decision for Adani Mining Pty Ltd.’s North Galilee Basin Rail Project with 23 strict conditions, as a precautionary measure to provide investment certainty.”
The Carmichael project – proposed in 2010 – is valued at $16 billion Australian dollars and will produce and transport around 60 million tonnes of coal annually. Most of the coal from Carmichael is set for India.
It is expected to generate over $500 million annually in direct and indirect benefits to Queensland’s economy during construction and $3 billion at full export capacity.
In a Facebook post, Adani Australia welcomed the Minister’s announcement on the approval of the Carmichael Mine and North Galilee Basin Rail (NGBR) under the EPBC Act.
“The Carmichael Mine and NGBR lie at the heart of Adani’s plans to build a long term future with Queensland. Adani has said for some time now that what is required for companies planning major job creating and infrastructure generating projects in Australia is certainty on approvals. It is certainty over the remaining approvals that is now key to the company progressing its plan to deliver mine, rail and port projects in Queensland that will deliver 10,000 direct and indirect jobs, and $22 billion in taxes and royalties to be reinvested back into community services,” the company said.
“Consistent with our public statements over the past several months, we look forward to the remaining government approvals and decision processes being dealt with promptly to ensure these job creating projects get back on track, so the much needed economic benefits of this project can commence and we can continue with our aspiration to build a long term future with Queensland.”