Adani’s $7-b Australian coal project gets green light, again

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on January 22, 2018



59 stiff riders include water conservation, protection of bird species in peril

The five-year-old proposal of Adani Group to build one of the world’s largest coal mines Down Under got a new lease of life with the Australian government re-issuing the environment clearance for the project but with 59 stiff caveats.

Adani Mining Pty Ltd intends to invest $16 billion in an integrated project to develop the Carmichael coal mine near Queensland with allied infrastructure of a rail link and port at Abbot to transport coal to India.

Last July, the Australian government had given the approvals, but in August 2014 they were set aside by the Federal Court to address a technical error on the part of the Environment Department.

On Thursday, Australian Environment Minister Greg Hunt issued the final Federal approval for the Carmichael Mine and North Galilee Basin Rail. Adani had planned to ship 40 million tonnes of coal a year in the first phase of mine development.

“The conditions I have imposed take into account issues raised by the community and ensure that the proponent must meet the highest environmental standards,” Hunt said in a statement.

The conditions include protecting and improving 31,000 hectares of habitat for an endangered Finch, protecting groundwater and providing A$1 million in funding for research to improve conservation of threatened species in the Galilee Basin.

Reacting to the development, the Adani Group said the company looks for certainty in getting the remaining approvals to progress with the plan to deliver mine, rail and port projects. The project will create 10,000 direct and indirect jobs and generate A$22 billion in taxes and royalties to be reinvested back into community services.

“We look forward to the remaining government approvals being dealt with promptly to ensure these job-creating projects get back on track, so the much-needed economic benefits of this project can commence and we can continue with our aspiration to build a long-term future in Queensland,” it added.

Funding challenge

Tying up funds for the project may be the next big challenge for the Adanis as several French and German banks have said they will not finance a coal mining project in the Galilee Basin, while Standard Chartered and Commonwealth Bank of Australia pulled out of the project this August.

This apart, the sharp fall in coal prices in the recent past has hit the coal economy Down Under and some of the mines have shut operations. Last month, the 128-year-old Russell Vale Colliery owned by Wollongong Coal, in which Jindal Steel and Power has majority stake, decided to shut operations due to rising operational costs and dipping fuel prices.

Published on October 15, 2015

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