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Carmichael coal railway approved

14 Dec 2016

AUSTRALIA: Indian energy group Adani has received the final approval from the federal government and the state of Queensland for its A$21·7bn project to develop the planned Carmichael coal mine in the north Galilee Basin, together with a 388 km 1 435 mm gauge rail link to a new export terminal at Abbot Point near Bowen.

Described by the company as Australia’s largest thermal coal mine, the 45 000 ha six-pit development approximately 160 km north-west of Clermont in Central Queensland is expected to produce 2·3 billion tonnes over 60 years. At peak capacity the mine would be shipping 60 million tonnes of coal a year. Adani says ‘the combined mine, rail and port operations will provide over 10 000 direct and indirect jobs and supply opportunities for local businesses’.

State development minister Dr Anthony Lynham said approval of the final section of the rail link and a temporary construction camp was ‘another key milestone’ for the project.

Adani expects to start construction next year on the 1 435 mm gauge North Galilee Basin Railway, which in part would parallel Aurizon’s 1 067 mm gauge electrified Goonyella network. The rail link is expected to create 2 000 jobs during the construction phase and about 370 permanent jobs once the line is operational. In 2014 the group selected South Korean construction company POSCO E&C to build the line, although that agreement is understood to have lapsed.

The promoter has requested an A$1bn loan from the federal government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility to help fund the railway. It says that ‘over its 60 year life’, the railway and port facilities would ‘not only support Adani’s operations, but have the potential to assist the development of other proposed mines in the Galilee Basin’. Resources minister Matt Canavan said the government was assessing the project’s eligibility for funding.