PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt has approved the A$16.5-billion Carmichael coal mine and rail project, in Queensland.
India’s Adani Mining would develop an opencut and underground mine, which is expected to produce about 60-million tonnes a year of thermal coal. The project will create up to 2 500 construction jobs and employ about 3 900 staff when operational.
All coal will be railed via a privately owned rail line connecting to the existing Aurizon rail infrastructure near Moranbah, and shipped through coal terminal facilities at the Port of Abbot Point and/or the Port of Hay Point.
The Carmichael coal mine and rail mine, which would operate for about 90 years, was expected to generate over A$500-million a year in direct and indirect benefits to the Queensland economy during its construction period, and about A$3-billion at full capacity.
The project would have a yearly resource value of some A$5-billion and a lifetime resource value of at least A$300-billion.
It is estimated the project will provide electricity for up to 100-million people in India.
Minister Hunt said on Monday that he had approved Carmichael for development following a thorough assessment and consideration, and had imposed 36 conditions on the project development.
“The absolute strictest of conditions have been imposed to ensure the protection of the environment, with a specific focus on the protection of groundwater. These 36 conditions complement the conditions imposed by the Queensland government, and will ensure the proponent meets the highest environmental standards and that all impacts, including cumulative impacts, are avoided, mitigated or offset,” Hunt said.
He noted that the strict conditions would ensure the protection of the environment as a paramount concern.
The conditions being imposed require Adani to ensure that a minimum of 730 megalitres of water be returned to the Great Artesian basin every year for five years, as well as to allow for peer review of the parameters of the groundwater modelling and to re-run the model to determine whether further mitigation measures are required.
Furthermore, the Indian firm would have to monitor groundwater changes to verify and update the modelling, adaptively manage uncleared habitat to address potential subsidence impacts and groundwater changes, offset impacts from cleared habitat, and review offset requirements if uncleared habitat is subsequently impacted through subsidence or groundwater changes.
Adani would also be required to contribute funding to address cumulative impacts to threatened species and communities and to undertake research on potential groundwater changes to adaptively manage risks of impacts.