Australia sets conditions to Rinehart’s $6.4 billion coal mine project

Australian environment minister, Tony Burke, has told GVK and #4 mining billionaire Gina Rinehart to improve four areas of their $6.4 billion Alpha Coal project if they want to gain Federal environmental approval.

Burke said in a statement the areas needed to be addressed included an enhanced offsets package and clarifying how the mine’s environmental studies on Abbot Point worked with other studies of the location.

“Stopping the clock does not mean stopping the process,” said the minister, adding that the process has progressed significantly since his office decided put a pause on the project, despite approval from the state of Queensland at the end of May.

After halting the approval, Burke criticized the Queensland Government’s approach to the Alpha mine and labeled it a “shambolic joke”:

Mr Burke was quoted criticising the state-level approval process on Australia’s ABC radio. “I want a streamlined approach, I don’t want a shambolic joke and that is what Queensland is wanting me to accept. I don’t have the level of trust in the Queensland government which I wish I had,” he said.

Last September, GVK paid $1.3 billion for Hancock Prospecting’s coal, rail and port projects.  The Indian infrastructure giant is spending a further $10 billion developing the Alpha project as it lines up energy supplies for an array of projects in power-hungry India.

Hancock’s owner and fourth richest miner in the world, Georgina Hope Rinehart, joined GVK Power’s board as part of the deal and retained a 21% stake in the mines. The Alpha project was one of the biggest of Hancock Prospecting’s projects that also includes a number of iron ore and other coal projects.

GV Krishna (GVK) Reddy who steers the vast conglomerate, which apart from mining and infrastructure also operates hotels and airports, is one of India’s richest men with a fortune of over $1 billion.

Rinehart and Reddy created something of a political flap in Australia after sealing the deal at Reddy’s granddaughter’s $1 million wedding ceremony in Hyderabad in the presence of Australian parliamentarians.

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