Polemic Carmichael coal project in Australia to get going as early as August

India’s Adani Group plans to begin work on its $16bn (A$21bn) Carmichael coal mine and rail project in Australia three months after it gets final approval from the federal government, which is expected as early as May, the conglomerate’s chairman has said.

Gautam Adani predicts the mine — located in the Galilee Basin province in central Queensland — will be operating by 2020, with a final investment decision by May or June, even though it's still beset by legal challenges, SkyNews reports.

Since first proposed, Carmichael has faced relentless opposition from organizations ranging from the United Nations to green groups.

The Carmichael project has faced relentless opposition from organizations ranging from the United Nations to green groups fighting new coal projects, which prompted the company to cut underground mining capacity by 38%.

Opponents worry the development could harm the Great Barrier Reef and jeopardize vulnerable species including a lizard known as the yakka skink.

Despite legal hurdles, the project was finally approved in October 2015 under what environment minister Greg Hunt called “the strictest conditions in Australian history."

Adani Group said last year that legal costs and cutting its way through the environmental snags that delayed the first phase of the mine had cost it more than $120 million.

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.

The project is meant to produce 60 million tonnes of thermal coal a year for export, fuelling this way power generation for 100 million Indians.

Polemic Carmichael coal project in Australia to get going as early as August

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