The Australian government on Thursday reissued environmental permit to Gautam Adani-led Adani Enterprises for construction of a multi-billion dollar coal mine project, but with “strictest conditions” amid environmental concerns.
“The project has been approved under national environment law, subject to 36 strict conditions,” the Australian environment ministry said on its website, while clearing the A$10 billion (US $7 billion) Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin.
The construction of one of the world’s biggest coal mines in Queensland has attracted fierce criticism from environmentalists who say the development, which requires coal to be shipped to a port on the coast, risks the World Heritage-listed reef’s health and destroys local habitats.
“The project was assessed through the accredited New South Wales Environmental Impact Assessment process,” the environment ministry release said.
However, analysts said it would be hard to justify the project at a time when coal prices are mired at an eight-year low.
“At present, the coal prices are at an all-time low and this asset is almost 500km from the port, so transportation and operating costs are very high,” Dipesh Dipu, energy consultant at Jenissi Management Consultants - Energy & Resources, told HT.
In August, an Australian court had revoked the environmental approval given to the Adani project, opposed by green groups and local residents.
The Australian court had said that a July 2014 clearance granted to Adani would impact two species — yakka skink and ornamental snake.
Following the court order in August, the Australian environment ministry had said that it could take between six to eight weeks for its environment minister to reconsider the approval.
“It is certainty over the remaining approvals that is now key to the company progressing its plan to deliver mine, rail and port projects in Queensland that will deliver 10,000 direct and indirect jobs, and $22 billion in taxes and royalties to be reinvested back into community services,” a company statement said. “We look forward to the remaining government approvals and decision processes being dealt with promptly to ensure these job creating projects get back on track.”
Geoff Cousins, president of the Australian Conservation Foundation, a non-government organisation that had opposed the mine, termed the Australian government’s approval as being “grossly irresponsible.”
At a time when the world is desperately seeking cleaner energy options this huge new coal mine will make the effort to combat climate change all the more difficult.”