Australia’s biggest coal mine is set to get underway in 2017. The governor of Queensland, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will meet with Gautam Adani of Adani Group on December 6 in Townsville, which is expected to host the headquarters of the Galilee Basin project. Adani won approval from Queensland and Australia’s central government to build a 31.5km rail line and a temporary camp for the $1.4 billion Carmichael mine despite opposition from environmentalists who had battled against the project in the courts.
To realize the project, approvals for roads and power lines are required, as well as a water license. The company intends to begin construction during the first six months of 2017. The Australian government provided $750 million in concessionary loans to build the railway. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said this year that no government funds are available to fund the scheme, even though several billion dollars could be made available from the country’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility.
State Development Minister Anthony Lynham urged the people of Queensland to keep in mind the approximately $2.6 billion in mining royalties the state receives from the natural resources sector of the economy, which pays for schools and hospitals, as well as public works. Dismissing environmentalists’ claims of a supposed negative impact on Australia’s world-famous Great Barrier Reef, Lynham said that it is possible to balance economic prosperity and environmental well-being because of what he called the 200 “stringent” conditions on the mine project and a target of 50 percent renewable energy by 2030.
Scientists claim that a massive die-off of coral on the Great Barrier Reef is the result of climate change brought on by the burning of fossil fuel such as coal. They claim that the Adani mine will exacerbate the problem and that with just 1.5 or 2 degrees Centigrade of warming, the reef is in grave danger.
The mayor Townsville, Jenny Hill greeted the news by saying, "We've got one of the highest unemployment rates in Australia." According to the Times of India, she added,
"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 Adani mine project will involve controversial project involves dredging 1.1 million cubic metres of spoil near the Great Barrier Reef, which will be discarded on line.
Meanwhile, over 200 people here gathered to protest, demanding that the project be stopped. Still defiant, Australian Conservation Foundation's Paul Sinclair said the project could still be stopped.