Indian energy giant Adani Group said today that it has struck a deal on royalties payments with the Queensland government for its 21.7 billion dollars coal mine project in Australia, a major breakthrough for the controversy-hit Carmichael venture which was stuck in limbo. According to the company statement, the deal with the state has met Adani’s expectations and requirements and the move would mean that the project was back on track to generate 10,000 direct and indirect jobs in the regional state. “This shows a strong commitment by the State government to the project and is a benchmark decision to take this project forward,” the statement said. “I thank the Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, and the elected members of the State for their continued support to make this happen. I also wish to thank Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten for their support for the changes to the Native Title Bill,” said Gautam Adani, Adani Group Chairman.
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The company will consider the final investment decision at the next board meeting, it said. The project, which is the most advanced in the Galilee Basin, involves a phase one mine production of 25 million tonnes per annum, and construction of a 388-kilometre standard gauge open access common user rail line. Peak mine production in later phases will rise to 60 million tonnes per annum. To accommodate that later stage mine production, Adani will also expand the port capacity from 50 million tonnes per annum to 120 million tonnes per annum of its owned and operated bulk coal port facility at Abbot Point near Bowen in North.
The future of the so called biggest mine in the world and largest in Australia was put on hold recently after the state cabinet’s split on the royalties payment. Adani wanted the Queensland government to delay the start of royalty obligations on the coal mine it hopes to build in Queensland’s Galilee Basin. Earlier, state Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had said the Indian mining giant would have to pay “every cent” of royalties for the proposed mine that was followed by Adani’s announcement to defer its final investment plan on the project. The project has been mired in several controversies in the past. It came under strong criticism from environmentalists and also faced several legal challenges from time to time.
Adani Group have for more than five years battled opposition from green groups who are opposed to any expansion of the port, saying it will cut into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Australian cricket legends Ian and Greg Chappell and scores of other prominent Aussies urged Adani to abandon the project. In an open letter, dated on March 16, they cited public opposition, risks to miners’ health, climate change and potential impact on the fragile Great Barrier Reef as reasons for their request not to proceed with the project in the Galilee Basin.
The letter warned that the project could hit the bilateral relationships, especially on the sporting and trade front. The company, however, rejected the demand as “a motivated attempt by a very small group of 76 misled people.” The Carmichael coal mine and port-cum-railhead project are said to be one of the world’s largest and has already received the green light from the federal and Queensland governments. The project involves dredging 1.1 million cubic metres of soil near the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which will then be disposed of on land.