India’s Adani Enterprises on Thursday received the go-ahead to start construction of a controversial coal mine in Australia‘s outback after a state government approved a final permit on groundwater management.

The Carmichael mine has been a lightning rod for climate change concerns in Australia and was seen as a factor in the surprise return to power of the conservative Liberal-National coalition in a national election in May.

First acquired by Adani in 2010, the project is slated to produce 8-10 million tonnes of thermal coal a year and to cost up to $1.5bn, but has been mired in court battles and opposition from green groups.

“We’re ready to start work on the Carmichael Project and deliver the jobs these regions so badly need,” Chief Executive Lucas Dow said in a statement.

The go-ahead comes after Queensland’s Department of Environment and Science said it had approved Adani’s Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan following a rigorous assessment “based on the best available science.”

The approval potentially paves the way for half a dozen new thermal coal mines to come online in Australia by opening up Queensland’s remote Galilee basin with rail infrastructure to the coast 320km away at Abbot Point.

Holders of other coal deposits in the basin include some of Australia’s wealthiest iron ore magnates such as Gina Rinehart, who has a joint venture with India’s GVK Group, and controversial one-term politician Clive Palmer.


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