Energy giant Adani has received the last approval it needed to begin work on its planned Carmichael coal mine and rail project in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.
The controversial project, subject to different levels of discussion and approval for the better part of a decade, was given the final all clear after Queensland’s Department of Environment and Sciences (DES) approved its Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan (GDEMP) on June 13.
It followed the approval late in May of Adani’s management plan for the black-throated finch.
The Groundwater plan was approved after Adani submitted an updated version of the plan addressing the state’s feedback on June 12.
“In assessing the plan, both Adani and DES took on board advice from CSIRO and Geoscience Australia – the same advice considered by the Commonwealth Government in approving an earlier version of the GDEMP in April this year,” the Department said.
Adani Mining’s CEO in Australia, Lucas Dow, said the approval brought to a close a two-year process of rigorous scientific inquiry, review and approvals.
“The finalisation of the GDEMP and the Black-throated Finch Management Plan paves the way for construction to commence on the Carmichael Project and the delivery of much-needed jobs for regional Queenslanders,” he said on June 13.
“Over the coming days preparatory activities such as finalising contracts, mobilising equipment, recruitment and completing inductions will continue. These preparatory actions will enable us to then start construction activities including fencing, bridge and road upgrades, water management and civil earthworks on the mine site. The level of construction activity will then steadily increase over the coming weeks.”
Along with a new coal mine, the Carmichael project also includes construction of a 189-kilometre, narrow gauge rail line to connect to Aurizon’s Central Queensland Coal Network. The company had originally planned a 388-kilometre standard gauge railway to take coal directly to export facilities at Abbot Point, but scaled back its plans in September 2018.
The final approvals for Adani come just weeks after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk asked the state’s coordinator general for a firm timeline for action.
“The community is sick of it, I’m sick of it, everyone is sick of the delays,” Palaszczuk said in May. “Everyone has had more than enough time to resolve these issues and for some reason that has not occurred – that all ends now.”
The Carmichael project has been subject to repeated approval delays over the last two years. Adani’s plan for the development encompasses an open-cut and underground coal mine capable of producing 60 million tonnes of product a year, but production is set to begin at a lower rate.