Australia has approved the construction of one of the world’s largest thermal coal mines.
Indian company Adani has been granted three leases by the Queensland Government for the A$21.7 billion (£11.6bn) Carmichael coal mine and rail project in the Galilee Basin.
The leases are estimated to contain 11 billion tonnes of thermal coal.
The proposed project includes six open-cut pits and five underground mines, a coal handling and processing plant, heavy industrial area and water supply infrastructure.
It is expected to create 1,075 jobs during construction and up to 3,800 once operational.
The approval follows a “final environmental authority” issued by the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection in February which stated the mine “will not pose an unacceptable risk to the environment” and included around 140 conditions.
Premier Annastascia Palaszczuk said: “This is a major step forward for this project after extensive government and community scrutiny. Some approvals are still required before construction can start and ultimately committing to the project will be a decision for Adani.
“However, I know the people of north and central Queensland will welcome this latest progress for the potential jobs and economic development it brings closer for their communities. At the same time, stringent conditions will continue to protect the environment, landholders’ and traditional owners’ interests and our iconic Great Barrier Reef.”
Adani has however battled opposition from green groups since starting work on the project five years ago. They claim the mine will fuel global warming and is a threat to the world heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.
Shani Tager, Greenpeace Australia Pacific’s Reef Campaigner said: “The federal and Queensland environment ministers are wringing their hands, despairing over the state of the Great Barrier Reef, yet at the same time they are paving the way for the nation’s biggest coal mine – a development that can only harm the Reef. Protecting the reef and approving the Carmichael mining lease are diametrically opposed. You cannot do both.
“The Queensland Government are supposed to be taking care of our Reef, instead they’re giving coal companies the green light to keep mining and burning coal that is driving climate change and bleaching our Reef.”