Sydney, June 6 : Australia on Tuesday gave green light to a project by Indian firm Adani Enterprises to build the largest coal mine in the country despite protests from environmental groups.
Environment activists have been opposing the $11.9 billion Carmichael coal mine project on the Galilee Basin in Queensland state, on grounds that it poses a threat to the Great Barrier Reef, which is located in the same region, Efe news reported.
“… The project has Final Investment Decision approval for the official start of one of the largest single infrastructure and job-creating developments in Australia’s recent history,” Gautam Adani, the firm’s President, said in a statement.
The Great Barrier Reef, declared World Heritage Site, is the world’s largest coral system and has been, for the second year running, suffering from excessive coral bleaching that has led to the death of half the species.
“The last thing the Great Barrier Reef needs is another coal mine doomed to fail,” said WWF Australia Chief Executive Officer Dermot O’Gorman.
Resources Minister Matt Canavan defended the project, which involves the construction of a 389-km railway line, at the inauguration of the Adani office in Townsville.
“It is the first time we have opened up a coal basin in 50 years and if we can get it going, it will open up more projects,” said Canavan.
The project, which plans to create 10,000 direct and indirect jobs is yet to receive funding guarantee after four major Australian banks backed out.
The company has requested a loan of around 672 million dollars to Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility.
The Australian Greens party spokesperson for environmental affairs, Larissa Waters, said the Adani announcement does not imply that the mine will go ahead, reported the AAP news agency.
In October 2015, the Australian government had re-approved the Adani project after a court ruled in favour of a legal challenge to the project, imposing 36 strict conditions.
The conditions included accepting the recommendations of independent experts to protect a habitat of 31,000 hectares and funding to investigate and protect endangered fauna in the wetlands of Doongmabulla Springs.
The mine, which could operate for about 90 years, will produce 60 million tonnes of coal to be exported from the Abbot Point port terminals, located near the Great Barrier Reef.