Australia's to-be largest coal mine approved

The Australian federal government has approved a $4.2 billion coal mine in Queensland that is set to become the biggest in the country.

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt gave the green light for the 37,380-hectare Kevin’s Corner mine which will produce up to 30 million tonnes of thermal coal per year, over a mine life of 30 years.

The Galilee Basin mine will be operated by GVK-Hancock, an Indian-Australian consortium.

Construction is expected to start in 2015 with first coal being produced in 2018.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, this is the first coal mine to be approved since the previous government introduced a new water trigger rule.

Environmental concerns center around the mine's water usage, which Greenpeace says will total more than nine billion litres per year, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

They said mining and coal seam gas extraction could damage aquifers, rivers and water catchments.

Combined, GVK-Hancock's Galilee Basin projects will be one of the largest coal mining operations in the world, "holding total resources of 8 billion tonne and a peak capacity of around 80 million tonne per annum." GVK writes.

The projects will employ around 7,000 people during construction. Once operational, they will employ about 20,000 people directly and indirectly.