Australian state says approvals for controversial Adani coal mine due by mid-June

An activist holding a sign to express disapproval for the controversial Adani coal mine, on May 12, 2019.
An activist holding a sign to express disapproval for the controversial Adani coal mine, on May 12, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

MELBOURNE (REUTERS) - Australia's Queensland state said on Friday (May 24) that the process to obtain final approvals for Adani Enterprise's controversial Carmichael coal mine must be wrapped up by mid-June.

Adani has been working for a decade to obtain approvals to develop the project in the remote Galilee Basin, but the process has been slow as the mine has become a touchstone for concerns about climate change.

"These deadlines are set by the independent coordinator general and they are the timeframes," Queensland Premier Anna Palasczcuk told reporters in regard to two outstanding permits.

Approvals to preserve the habitat of the black-throated finch are due by May 31 and a management plan for ground water by June 13, pending advice by Australia's science body the CSIRO, she said.

The thaw in the approval process comes after a national election delivered a surprise win for the incumbent Liberal-National coalition, which had offered strong support for the mine, following a large swing against opposition Labor in coal mining areas.

Adani's planned new mine comes as demand for thermal coal nears its peak as countries around the world look to phase out the use of coal given climate change concerns. Burning coal is a major source of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas heating up the atmosphere and fuelling more extreme weather.

A crash in prices of Australian thermal coal this year has also raised questions about the mine's viability. Adani has said it is aiming to start producing 10 million tonnes a year of coal from March 20.

Adani on Thursday rejected comments on social media by a Bloomberg opinion writer who said the mine is unlikely to be viable at current thermal coal prices.

"Its low-cost profile, the quality of the resource and forecast demand from our target markets of India and South-East Asia mean that the project's economics are strong," Adani said in comments posted on Twitter by the Bloomberg writer.