Indian energy giant Adani on Thursday cleared the last regulatory hurdle to commence the work on its controversy-hit Carmichael coal mine project in Australia with the Queensland state authorities approving its groundwater management plan.
The final and last approval for the Adani Groups long-delayed billion dollar mega coal mine project came weeks after a surprise election win of Australia’s pro-coal ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
On May 31, Adani won the first approval from the Queensland state government to protect the endangered black-throated finch bird population as part of its crucial environmental plan at the site of its mine project.
The finch management plan and the groundwater plan were the two persisting hurdles before the Indian energy giant could begin work on the largest coal mine project in the country.
The mining company is now expected to start construction at the site within days. The State Department of Environment and Science said in a statement that it has approved the most recent version of the plan, which Adani submitted just a day ago.
“Adani submitted its most recent version of the plan, addressing the departments feedback, yesterday. The (plans) assessment has been rigorous and based on the best available science,” the department said.
According to media reports, the company had earlier submitted almost a dozens of ground water management plans but failed to meet the key environmental requirements.
Adani, which has mining and environmental licences of the state government, required the state approvals on management plans on the endangered finch bird and groundwater in order to commence the mine construction.
Following the approval, Adani can now break ground at the site. However, its railway line design to get coal to the Abbot Point terminal, north of Bowen town, are yet to be finalised.
Adani has approvals to produce up to 60 million tonnes of thermal coal annually but at this stage, it is only planning to produce about 27.5 million tonnes.
The groups country head — Adani Australia Chief Executive Officer Lucas Dow — had last month said that the defeat of the opposition Labor Party in Queensland, where the project is based, is a clear message to get the project done.
Labor Party leader Bill Shorten, who took a firm stand against coal and mining, resigned as his party fared poorly in Queensland, especially in mining communities in the north of the state.
The Adani Carmichael mine is set to become the largest coal mine, with approval to produce up to 60 million tonnes of coal annually, and 2.3 billion tonnes over the life of the mine.
Gautam Adani-led Adani Group entered Australia in 2010 with the purchase of the greenfield Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin in central Queensland, and the Abbot Point port near Bowen in the north.
Carmichael would be the largest coal mine in Australia and one of the biggest in the world.
Adani said last year it would fully fund the coal mine and rail project itself, but did not give an updated estimate of the cost of the mine. The mine previously estimated at about USD 2.9 billion.