The Australian government has approved billionaire Gautam Adani-promoted Adani Group’s proposed AUS$16.5-billion ($15.5 billion) Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project, subject to a set of environmental conditions. Australian environment minister Greg Hunt approved the project on Monday. Commenting on the development Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani said, “We welcome the Minister’s approval of the Carmichael Mine and Rail project, which takes us another step closer to delivering our mine,rail and port development.” “Adani's commitment to contribute towards providing energy security to India and other Asian countries goes hand-in-hand with its commitment to providing sustainable employment opportunities for local workers and suppliers, not just through our rail infrastructure, but also our longer-term investment in ports and mining,” Adani said. The Rs 50,000-crore Adani Group, through its Australian subsidiary Adani Mining Pty Ltd, had in mid-2010 proposed to develop a 60-million tonne per annum (mtpa) thermal coal mine in the north Galilee Basin in Central Queensland. All coal will be railed via a privately-owned rail line and shipped through coal terminal facilities at the Port of Abbot Point and / or the Port of Hay Point (Dudgeon Point expansion). The Carmichael Coal Mine, spread over area of 44,700 hectares, and the 189-km rail project will have an operating life of about 90 years. In May this year, the Queensland Coordinator-General Barry Boroe had approved the project with 190 conditions for proponent Adani Mining Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of Adani Enterprise Ltd, to be met during the construction and operational phase of the project. The company will also have to obtain the relevant development approvals under various acts along with a range of state and local government approvals required for the project.
Adani Mining Pty Ltd will also need to finalise and implement a range of environmental management plans and sub-plans for the mine, off-lease infrastructure and rail besides finalising the biodiversity offsets strategy. The conditions laid down by the Australian government include getting the environment minister’s approval on groundwater management and monitoring plan before mining; not to clear vegetation outside the project area; prior to commencement of mining operations, Adani must submit its plans for the management of direct and indirect impacts of mining operations to the minister for approval. Adani has also been asked to submit a biodiversity offset strategy (BOS) to compensate for authorised unavoidable impacts on matters of national environmental significance. There should be no mining till the BOS is approved by the minister, the order stated. The company will also have to contribute AUS$100,000 a year for 10 consecutive years to the pool of funds beginning from the commencement of mining activities. This pool of funds must be established for better protection and long-term conservation of threatened species and communities listed in Australia’s Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. Besides, Adani Mining Pty will have to submit a 3D seismic survey management plan, review groundwater flow, among others. “The Coordinator-General had set stringent and wide-ranging conditions to protect landholders, local flora, groundwater resources, surface water and air quality as well as controls on dust and noise,” deputy premier and minister for state development, infrastructure and planning, Jeff Seeney had said in a statement early this year. The 600-page Coordinator-General’s report sets 190 conditions for Adani to meet during the construction and operational phase of the project, he added. Seeney said the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project had the potential to create up to 2,500 construction and 3,900 operational jobs, providing a major boost to the local and state economy. “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,” he added. Commenting on the development Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani said, "We welcome the Minister's approval of the Carmichael Mine and Rail project, which takes us another step closer to delivering our mine,rail and port development." "Adani's commitment to contribute towards providing energy security to India and other Asian countries goes hand-in-hand with its commitment to providing sustainable employment opportunities for local workers and suppliers, not just through our rail infrastructure, but also our longer-term investment in ports and mining," Adani said. "Development of the Galilee Basin is vital for the regional and economic growth of both Queensland and Australia, and Adani's project plays an important role in realising this growth," he added. On conditions for approval Adani said they were fully committed to adhering to the strict regulatory and environmental approval process that apply to all of its planned projects.
($1 = 1.0641 Australian Dollars)