Mining conglomerate Adani has come a step closer to constructing its multi-billion Carmichael coal mine and rail infrastructure project in Australia after the federal government approved its groundwater management plans.
Environment minister Melissa Price announced that she had approved the groundwater management plans after CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) and Geoscience Australia found they met scientific requirements.
The approval follows more than 18 months of consultation with the Department, and independent evaluation and endorsement of the plan by CSIRO and Geoscience Australia, said Lucas Dow, chief executive officer of Adani Mining.
"Throughout the past 18 months, the Federal Department provided us with certainty of process and timing, including the steps involved in the independent review by CSIRO and Geoscience Australia experts," he added.
The minister's statement said that the project had been subject to the most rigorous approval process of any mining project in Australia.
Though with the approval, the company has cleared the final hurdle from the federal government for the project, it would require Queensland government approvals to proceed.
This decision does not comprise the final approval for this project, Price said in her statement.
"The Project now requires further approvals from the Queensland Government prior to construction commencing. To date, only 16 of 25 environmental plans have been finalised or approved by the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments with a further 9 to be finalised, the statement read.
Dow said, the Queensland government continued to shift the goal posts when it came to finalising the outstanding environmental management plans for the mine and was standing in the way of thousands of jobs for Queenslanders.
"It's time the Queensland Government gave us a fair go and stopped shifting the goal posts so we can get on with delivering these jobs," he said.
The Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan (GDEMP) is one of the two outstanding management plans that require approval from the Queensland Government to allow Adani to start construction and mining. The other was the Black-throated Finch Management Plan.
The GDEMP has been through 11 rounds of assessment with the Australian and Queensland governments over more than two years now.
Adani entered Australia in 2010 with the purchase of the greenfield Carmichael mine. The project ran into controversy as environmentalists raised concerns about damage to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and the threatened black-throated finch.
Dow said, construction of the first phase would start once the two approvals - for the GDEMP and Black-throated Finch Management Plan- from the Queenland government were in place. The first phase of the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Infrastructure project would entail an investment of around A$2 billion and the production envisaged is 10 million tonnes of coal.