Australia approves Adani’s $15.5bn Carmichael coal project

The Australian government on Monday approved Gujarat-based Adani Mining Pty Ltd’s USD 15.5 billion Carmichael coal and rail project in Queensland, subject to strict conditions to protect groundwater.

The Carmichael mine, which could become Australia’s largest coal mine producing 60 million tonne a year, has sparked protests from green groups and marine tour operators concerned about export of the coal from a port near the Great Barrier Reef. “The strict conditions will ensure the protection of the environment as a paramount concern,” Australia’s environment minister, Greg Hunt, said in a statement. The coal from the Carmichael mine will be transported via a 400-km railway line to Abbot Port, where the company owns a shipping terminal, and from there it will be exported to India. Adani says the coal will help meet the country’s rising power demands.

Adani acquired the port, which is near the Great Barrier Reef, in 2011 and will have to expand it in order to ship the coal. Post Q2FY14 results, the Adani management had indicated that in light of subdued imported coal prices, its Australian capex plans are currently on hold and no material capex is expected at least in FY14. It said the coal production may commence in FY18-19.