Miner Adani has promised to prioritise local workers at its Carmichael mine and promised not to use 457 visas to bring in foreign workers.
The Queensland government has been given an "iron clad" guarantee from Indian mining giant Adani that it will not use 457 visas at its Carmichael mine and will prioritise local workers.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk met with Adani global head Gautam Adani and CEO Jeyakumar Janakaraj to announce Townsville would become the company's headquarters as it begins construction on the $21.7 billion projects from June or July next year.
"Today is the signalling of a new era, a new dawn, for this city," Ms Palaszczuk said at the Port of Townsville.
"I have got an iron-clad guarantee from Mr Adani that there will be no 457 visas as part of the workforce for this major project."
The project is expected to generate about 10,000 jobs over its lifespan of 50-60 years.
Ms Palaszczuk described the plans as "generational".
Mr Adani gave Ms Palaszczuk an assurance that he is committed to building a large solar farm in Murrumbah in coming years.
Mr Janakaraj said it was a significant day for the company, with the mine "back on track".
The Mackay-Bowen area would become the regional headquarters for its rail and port operations, however Adani is yet to make a final decision on where the mine's fly-in, fly-out base would be.
The company will decide next year whether to establish the base in Townsville or Rockhampton.
Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan said the project would create an "economic ecosystem" in the region that would create jobs in other sectors as well.
"There will be more jobs for secretaries, lawyers, bankers, nurses because there will be more people here," Senator Canavan said.
The main construction work is expected to be underway by the last quarter of 2017.
Conservationists remain concerned about the contribution of burning fossil fuels to climate change and its knock-on effect on the Great Barrier Reef.
But Janakaraj said the company preferred to consider "facts rather than emotions".
"People have to clearly understand this project is a net positive impact on climate change in the world," he said.
India would remain a large consumer of coal and would source it from elsewhere if Australia did not supply the "high-quality, highly-sustainable" mining, he added.
"Australia has this moral responsibility to be a part of the solution and not just be a part of the problem," he said.
Mr Janakaraj said 60 per cent of Adani's energy mix would come from renewable sources and the protection of India's energy security would lift millions of people out of poverty.
But former deputy mayor Vern Veitch, who joined about 150 conservationists at a protest against the plans in Townsville, said Australia instead had a responsibility to show the world renewable energy was a better way to spend money.
"It's no different to supplying drugs," he said.
"If a drug dealer supplies drugs to an addict, he will take them.
Government loan 'not critical' for Adani mine
Adani will only be granted a concessional loan from the Australian government if it can't raise the money for a railway line linked to its Carmichael coal mine from the private sector, the federal government says.
The Galilee Basin project this week won final state and federal approvals amid speculation $1 billion from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund (NAIF) would help pay for the 31.5km rail line.
But Resources Minister Matt Canavan says the company is obviously in discussions with various financiers.
"I'll let them speak for themselves on that matter," he told ABC radio on Tuesday.
"But I can say, our condition of funding under the NAIF is that there isn't available private finance. So if that's the case we won't proceed with this loan."
The company signalled the loan was not a "make or break" for the project going ahead.
"It's not critical," spokesman Ron Watson told Fairfax Media.
"We have obviously applied for it because it's available."
The prospect of the mine receiving funding has infuriated conservationists because Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull promised no public money would be handed over during the election campaign.
The Queensland government, which also vowed not to use state funds, is supportive of the loan being granted because of the jobs and royalties that will flow from the $21.7 billion mine.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will formally announce Townsville as the headquarters for the massive project after a meeting with Adani global head Gautam Adani on Tuesday morning.
The move is expected to create hundreds of technical and engineering roles in the city.
At its peak, almost 4000 people are expected to work at the central Queensland mine and associated port rail link, with Townsville also expected to act as a hub for fly-in, fly-out workers.
But the premier says other communities will also see big benefits, with hubs too in Rockhampton, Mackay and central Queensland.
"This is going to be the economic boost that the people need and the families need before Christmas," Ms Palaszczuk told the Nine Network.
Mr Adani's presence in Townsville fuelled a protest at the city's Tobruk Memorial Baths, where conservationists pleaded with the government to "choose coral not coal".
"If we don't do something about carbon emissions, we're basically condemning (the Great Barrier Reef) to the history books," marine biologist Jennifer Cooper said at the rally.
The group insisted the fight against the mine was not over, despite expectations construction would start in the middle of next year.
In response to environmental concerns, the Queensland government has pointed to 200 "stringent" conditions that will help protect the reef.
The Carmichael plans, including six open-cut pits and five underground mines, will be one of the biggest in the world and will operate for up to 90 years.