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Government Approves Mining Leases for $21 Billion Adani Coal Mine

Source: AAP

Adani says an investment decision on Australia's largest coal mine is some way off and will depend on further approvals and court challenges.

Adani says it won't commit to Australia's largest coal mine until court challenges by "politically-motivated activists" are resolved.

The Queensland government on Sunday announced it had granted the Indian miner the leases it needs to proceed with its multi-billion dollar Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee basin.

But Adani says it won't make a final investment decision until it has secured outstanding approvals and legal challenges are resolved.

"Successive legal challenges to science-based approvals - which are the strictest of their kind for a major resources project in this country - are designed to deny the job-creating benefits of the company's mine, rail and port projects to our state," the company said in a statement.

"(The) conclusion of second-tier approvals and resolution of politically-motivated legal challenges is the company's principal focus, prior to a final investment decision being made."

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said some approvals were still needed before Adani could begin construction.

"Ultimately committing to the project will be a decision for Adani," she said.

The three leases issued for the mine site northwest of Clermont cover an area estimated to contain 11 billion tonnes of thermal coal.

Green groups have savaged the decision, saying the mine will fuel global warming and compound threats to the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef, amid one of its worst coral bleaching events on record.

The Australian Conservation Foundation questioned whether Adani had pressured state Mines Minister Anthony Lynham to abandon his concerns, raised in February, about granting mining licences before court challenges had been resolved.

"Has he been pressured to go against his better judgment by Adani? It's strange," ACF chief executive Kelly O'Shanassy told AAP.

"The bleaching of the reef is because of global warming, and global warming is driven primarily through the burning of coal and we're going to burn more of it. They are choosing the Carmichael mine over the Great Barrier Reef."

The premier said the $21.7 billion project was subject to stringent conditions that would ensure the health of the reef, the environment and the interests of traditional owners.

"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," she said.

ACF is challenging federal approvals for the mine in the Federal Court, with a hearing set down for early May. Traditional owners have launched a separate case.

The Queensland approvals were announced on the same day the federal government's own marine science agency warned water quality targets designed to protect the reef were unlikely to be met.

Australian Institute of Marine Science researchers said water quality targets - set out in the Reef 2050 Plan and aimed at warding off a UNESCO decision to list the reef as in danger - would likely not be met under existing policies dealing with land-based pollution.

Adani Australia chief executive Jeyakumar Janakaraj said the company was serious about proceeding with the mine.

"We have invested $1.2 billion in the mine so far, and we have bought Abbot Point for $1.8 billion. Without seriousness of developing these projects, we wouldn't be investing that kind of cash," he told reporters in Mackay.

"If we do not send clean coal ... from Australia, India will continue to burn dirty coal and that is just not good for anybody."

Mr. Janakaraj said he hoped all outstanding approvals could be obtained this year, so construction could commence next year.

Source AAP