India's mining giant Adani will start work on its $16.5 billion Carmichael coal project in Australia in October and is expected to ship the first consignment in March 2020, the company has said after the controversy-hit project cleared two major legal hurdles.
The group has 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. The port is to be used for exporting coal to India.
The group has so far invested $2.7 billion on the Abbot Point port and preparatory work for the Carmichael coal mine.The company decided to move forward on the project after it cleared two more legal hurdles last week with a Brisbane court dismissing appeals filed by environmentalists and a traditional landowner against the venture.
"We will start construction of the project by October and first coal will come out in March 2020," Adani chairman Gautam Adani said on Sunday.
Adani Australia Country Head and CEO Jeyakumar Janakaraj said this was yet another example of Adani finally being able to enact long-held plans to benefit Queensland state. The company has selected the first regional contractor to refurbish its existing exploration camp accommodation. "Engaging with regional contractors has enabled us to be flexible and quick to get some of our construction infrastructure already operational," Janakaraj said.
Adani Australia's regional content initiatives will have long-term benefits for Queensland, particularly for contractors who help us meet our Indigenous content targets, he said. A further 245 rooms at the Carmichael camp are expected to come online by early September, along with extra facilities, project offices, utilities and communications.
Earlier, Janakaraj had said the project would create "10,000 direct and indirect jobs", with a minimum 7.5% of those going to traditional land owners. The project will also inject $22 billion in royalties and charges into the state coffers to be reinvested back into the broader community.
In June, Adani's board gave final investment approval for the proposed coal mine, which would be the largest in Australia. However, the Environmental Defenders Office said it would continue to examine the lawfulness of the mine.
Environmental activists are concerned about the potential impacts to the Great Barrier Reef as the coal will be shipped through areas close to the national icon. There are also concerns the coal burned will contribute to climate change, which is the biggest threat to the reef.