Aussie court clears way for $12bn Carmichael coal mine

Aussie court clears way for Adani's $12bn Carmichael coal mine

If built, Adani's Carmichael would be Australia's largest coal mine.

An Australian court has rejected the latest bid by environmentalists to stop Adani's Carmichael coal venture from going ahead, paving the way for the Indian conglomerate’s $12bn (A$16.5bn) mine and rail project.

While the Land Court of Queensland’s ruling clears the way for the giant coal project, is not binding on the state’s mining minister to issue any licences to Adani. It also comes with a long list of tighter conditions to protect the environment from the possible hazards that might arise from it, particularly around the nearby Great Barrier Reef.

Queensland's legal nod comes only days after a special meeting between Adani’s chairman Gautam Adani and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in which the Indian mining magnate requested the PM to introduce a special law banning activists from seeking judicial review of environmental approvals.

The Carmichael mine has faced relentless opposition from organizations ranging from the United Nations to green groups fighting new coal projects, which has scared banks from lending to the project. In October, the company got a big relief when the Australian government re-issued the environment approval for the project under what environment minister Greg Hunt called “the strictest conditions in Australian history."

First proposed in 2010, the massive coal project —set to produce about 60 million tonnes of coal a year mainly for export— has been reviewed several times in response to concerns highlighted by authorities and stakeholders.

An earlier plan to dump 3 million cubic metres of soil dredged at Abbot Point into the sea about 25 km (15 miles) from the Great Barrier Reef was rejected. Since then, the company has signed up buyers for about 70% of the 40 million tonnes coal the Carmichael project is due to produce in its first phase, with production expected to begin in late 2017.

According to official estimations Carmichael will contribute $2.97bn each year to Queensland’s economy and has the potential to create 6,400 new jobs: around 2,500 construction positions and 3,900 operational posts.

If built, Carmichael would be Australia's largest coal mine.

Aussie court clears way for Adani's $12bn Carmichael coal mine

Galilee Basin coal export projects map. (Courtesy of GalileeBasin.org)