Queensland approves rail line to coal port by Great Barrier Reef

Queensland approves rail line to coal port by Great Barrier Reef

Indian mining giant Adani has won final approval to build a 300km rail line from its Carmichael coal mine to one of the world’s biggest coal ports close to the Great Barrier Reef.

Queensland’s endorsement comes on the heels of a federal decision to let US$15bn Carmichael coal mine move forward in the untapped Galilee Basin.

Queensland approves rail line to coal port by Great Barrier Reef

Map from IEEFA’s report. Click on it to expand.

The approval of the railway line, The Australian reports, means that Adani now only needs to get the federal government blessing on the same rail line to have all required permits in place and so begin construction of the mine and transporting coal to port.

The Carmichael coal mine —potentially Australia’s largest— is expected to generate billions of dollars in revenue to a state that is struggling to cut its US$75 billion debt pile.

Premier Campbell Newman had said the $2.2bn project would fund schools, hospitals and roads and create 2,400 jobs during construction.

Minefield

Coal port projects and expansions have been a source of controversy in the last two years, with academics and environmental groups raising the issue of “irreparable damage” to the country’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

In 2012 UNESCO, the UN educational, scientific and cultural arm, sent an inspection team to the area, finding “a continuing decline in the quality of some parts” of the reef.  However, the Queensland Resources Council was quick to snub the report.

Last year more than 150 marine scientists from 33 institutions signed a letter warning Australian authorities of the mounting threats new coal ports and other industrial projects pose to the reef’s habitat.

And in May, Deutsche Bank refused to fund Adani’s plans to expand the port after the UN raised fresh concerns about its effects on the world’s heritage site.

Some 100 million tonnes of coal will pass along the railway every year.