Mining (3)
Workers are seen underground South Africa's Gold Fields South Deep mine in Westonaria, 45 kilometres south-west of Johannesburg, South Africa, March 9, 2017. Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

Coal extraction from the $16.5 billion Carmichael project in Australia is expected to begin in 2020. Chairman of India’s Adani Group, Gautam Adani, said the company will begin work three months after it secures an approval from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government.

Adani Group hopes to get Federal Government’s permission for the project in May. Adani said the project – which includes mine, post and rail development – could lead to the creation of as many as 10,000 direct and indirect jobs. However, the project has been opposed by environmentalists.

Following billions of dollars that were spent in buying the land, leases and the Abbot Point port, the company will now have to raise as many as $3.2 billion from the banks to complete the first phase of the development.

Additionally, the project also requires a Federal Government funding of around $800 million to $900 million from the Federal Government funding from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility. Adani claimed the funding is “very important,” which will be used to develop the rail line from the Carmichael mine to Abbot Point.

The coal from the mine will go to the Indian town of Mundra. According to Adani Australia boss Jeyakumar Janakaraj, the coal will help bring electricity to millions of people who live without power.

The opposition seen from environmentalists claims ground emissions from coal will affect climate change and threaten the Great Barrier Reef. The tourism industry will also be impacted as a result. Opponents argue the taxpayer money is being wasted on a junket.

However, Gladstone mayor Matt Burnett rejected this perception, adding that his stand is backed by constituent support. "You have a look on my social media if you don't believe me, have a look at all the 'good on ya Matty, go over there, we need these jobs, we need these jobs,’" Burnett said.

Townsville and Rockhampton are being considered for Adani’s fly-in, fly-out hub. In lieu of this, Rockhampton has said it will build a $20 million airport at the Carmichael mine should its land serve as the hub.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who travelled to Adani’s Mundra port in India, did not give a timeline for the final approval. “We don’t believe there will be any obstacles for that final piece of legislation going through the federal parliament and environmental conditions have been attached as well,” she said. The delegation led by Palaszczuk came as a “major breakthrough” for the project following a string of negative press and legal issues, according to a senior Adani executive.