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Australia approves sand dump near Great Barrier Reef despite warnings

Published on Mar 3, 2014 1:33 PM
A handout photograph shows an island of the Great Barrier Reef in Whitsundays, Queensland, Australia, on Monday on May 4, 2009.  -- FILE PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

MELBOURNE (REUTERS) - Australia approved coal port expansion plans that involve dredging and dumping millions of cubic metres of sand near the Great Barrier Reef despite warnings from an independent agency that the work could damage the reef.

The warnings emerged in documents obtained by environmental activist group Greenpeace, which is fighting plans by Indian companies Adani Enterprises and GVK and Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart to dig coal mines in the untapped Galilee Basin and turn Abbot Point on the north-east coast into the world's largest coal port.

Australia's conservative government approved plans to dredge 3 million cubic metres of sand for the port expansion last year.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), an independent agency charged with protecting the reef, in January granted a permit to dump the sand about 25km away from the protected zone.

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