Queensland Approves $16-B Carmichael Coal Mine, Largest in Australia with Production Target of 60 Million Tonnes/Yr

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By Vittorio Hernandez | May 9, 2014 8:20 AM EST

Rescuers push carts down a coal mine as they carry out rescue operations after a gas explosion, in Qujing, Yunnan province April 21, 2014. A total of 14 miners were killed from a colliery gas explosion in early Monday, the local government said, Xinhua News Agency reported. REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA - Tags: DISASTER ENERGY)
Rescuers push carts down a coal mine as they carry out rescue operations after a gas explosion, in Qujing, Yunnan province April 21, 2014. A total of 14 miners were killed from a colliery gas explosion in early Monday, the local government said, Xinhua News Agency reported. REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA - Tags: DISASTER ENERGY)

Queensland approved on Thursday the $16-billion Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail project, the largest coal mine in Australia and possibly in the world. By using open-cut and underground coal mining, Carmichael is expected to produce 60 million tonnes of thermal coal yearly for export.

The venture of Indian firm Adani could create 2,500 jobs during the construction phase and 3,900 when operational. It is expected to benefit the Australian state's economy by over $500 million directly and indirectly during the construction phase and $3 billion when it is exporting the coal, said Jeff Seeney, Queensland Minister for State Development.

Before the mine was approved, Queensland imposed 190 conditions to protect landholders, groundwater resources, flora and air quality. It also required control of dust and noise pollution during construction and operation.

Seeney added that Adani would be required to have an agreement with all affected landholders that the miner would identify and provide alternative water supplies hit by its groundwater and water bores. It must also contribute water monitoring data and financing for a Galilee region water resource model.

The green group Lock the Gate criticised the approval by the state government because of the venture's potential negative impact on Queensland's water resources.

Adani, which would also needs federal approval of the project, was the winner in December of a bidding for a major coal port expansion project on the coast of the Great Barrier Reef, which had also angered conservationist groups.

The Galilee Basin, where the mine is located, is estimated to hold 20 billion tonnes of thermal coal, one of the key ingredients to produce steel.

Besides Adani, also mining for coal in the basin are Gina Rinehart's company, Hancock Prospecting, in partnership with GVK, another Indian miner, and Waratah Coal, owned by miner-turned-politician Clive Palmer.

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Rescuers push carts down a coal mine as they carry out rescue operations after a gas explosion, in Qujing, Yunnan province April 21, 2014. A total of 14 miners were killed from a colliery gas explosion in early Monday, the local government said, Xinhua News Agency reported. REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA - Tags: DISASTER ENERGY)
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