MELBOURNE: Indian mining giant Adani's plan to build one of the world's largest coal mines in Australia got a major boost today as it secured the final approval for a permanent rail line and a temporary construction camp for the 21.7 billion dollars controversy-hit project despite protests.
Queensland's Coordinator-General has given "the latest, and final, secondary approval" for about 31.5 kilometres of permanent track, as well as the 300-bed camp. The rail section approved will form part of the 389- kilometre heavy haul railway line from the mine in the Galilee Basin to the Abbot Point port, ABC News reported.
State Development Minister Anthony Lynham said the approval was another milestone for the project. "Adani has confirmed it will start construction next year," Lynham said "North Queensland is about to see a new horizon, because these big projects will be a huge economic stimulus for the north," he said. Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani is expected to meet Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk during his visit to Australia this week.
The company is also expected to announce its project headquarters tomorrow. Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said it would be a huge win for the region. "We've got one of the highest unemployment rates in Australia," she said. "These are the sort of projects that can support 2,000 to 3,000 jobs, not to mention the other jobs that come from the fact that so many people are employed," Hill said.
The mine will consist of six open-cut pits and up to five underground mines, and will supply Indian power plants with enough coal to generate electricity for up to 100 million people. The controversial project involves dredging 1.1 million cubic metres of spoil near the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which will then be disposed off on land.
Meanwhile, over 200 people here gathered to protest, demanding that the project be stopped. Australian Conservation Foundation's Paul Sinclair said the project could still be stopped. "Every day that we stop Adani digging that coal is a day this planet is free from its pollution," he said.
Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) Traditional Owners Council also issued a statement saying that they are opposed the project. W&J Council, leading Aboriginal rights advocate, spokesperson Adrian Burragubba said, "The Queensland and Federal governments have knowingly overlooked that we stand in the way of this mine and when we say 'no' we mean no. Through our legal actions we are intent on stopping this massive and destructive project from moving forward." The project has faced a protracted battle to establish Australia's largest thermal coal mine.