Greg Hunt gives green light to Adani's $16 billion Carmichael coal mining and rail project

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Coal Mine
Coal is stockpiled at the Blair Athol mine at the remote Bowen Basin coalfield near Moranbah June 1, 2012. Reuters/James Regan

What environmental activists have flagged as a “disaster” project has been allowed to proceed. On Thursday, Environment Minister Greg Hunt approved the Adani Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Infrastructure, the nation’s largest coal mining project, for the second time, with “36 of the strictest of conditions in the history of Australia.”

“In making this decision I have considered additional information provided by Adani and environmental groups, including the Mackay Conservation Group, the Environmental Defenders Office and the Australian Conservation Foundation,” Hunt said in a statement. “The conditions I have imposed take into account issues raised by the community and ensure that the proponent must meet the highest environmental standards.”

The Federal Court had blocked the project from going ahead in August, after it found Hunt had not paid attention to the advice provided about the impact it would have on the endangered yakka skink and ornamental snake.

The strict conditions that have been imposed on the coal mining giant include implementation of all advice from the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development, as well as protection and preservation of 31,000 hectares of southern black throated finch habitat.

Under the terms, the approval would also require those in charge of the project to provide $1 million fund for research programs aimed at protecting endangered species in the Galilee Basin for 10 years. The protection of Doongmabulla Springs also falls within the responsibility of the Department of Environment and Adani.

The project is expected to produce 60 million tonnes of coal per year for export. However, it faced vehement protests from environmental activists because of its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef. The protesters are already planning to challenge the decision in court.

Even though Adani has obtained permission to proceed with the project, there is still uncertainty over how the AU$16 billion project will proceed since the National Australia Bank has declined to provide funds for the mine, while other banks are being pressured to follow suit.

Hunt would hold the power to suspend or revoke the approval, and in case of any breach of the conditions, penalties would apply.

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