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Posted On : 19 Mar, 2017  Source : PTI  Place : Mumbai 
Adani hopes to start Australian coal mine project by August
Adani Group Chairman Gautam Adani is optimistic of starting his USD 22 billion Carmichael coal mine and port-cum-railhead projects at Queensland in Australia, facing some opposition there, by August this year.

"We expect the final federal approvals by May or June. We need just about three months from thereon to actually begin the work on the mine. It means we can kick-start work from August this year," Adani told PTI in an interview over the weekend.

He was accompanied by Queensland premier Anastasia Palaszczuk, who was in town leading a 25-member delegation of mayors and state officials after visiting the Mundra port and solar power farms of the Adanis in Gujarat over the weekend.

Adani said he expects his coal mining in Australia to start by 2020.

The company has nearly halved the first phase of the mining project to 25 mt per annum from the original plan of 40 mt, he said.

The Adani group entered Australia in 2010 after purchasing the greenfield Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin in the central Queensland and the Abbot Point port near Bowen in the north.

Palaszczuk too sounded positive about securing the pending federal approvals soon as her country's national parliament is in session now and is keen to begin a debate on the project.

"Most of the approvals are in. There is no approval pending from my government. Some legislations are currently before the federal parliament," she said.

"I don't believe there will be any obstacles for that final piece of legislation in the federal parliament and the environmental conditions have been attached as well," Palaszczuk said.

The support for the investment in Queensland comes just days after Australian cricket legends Ian and Greg Chappell and scores of other prominent Aussies urged Adani to abandon the USD 21.7 billion project.

The company, however, rejected the demand as "a motivated attempt by a very small group of 76 misled people."

An open letter, dated March 16, cited public opposition, risks to miners' health, climate change and potential impact on the fragile Great Barrier Reef as reasons for their request not to proceed with the project in the Galilee Basin.

The letter warned that the project could hit the bilateral ties, especially on the sporting and trade front.

The USD 21.7 billion Carmichael coal mine and port-cum-railhead project is said to be one of the world's largest and has already received the green signal from the federal and Queensland governments.

The project involves dredging 1.1 million cubic metres of soil near the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which will then be disposed of on land.

Asked for her reaction to the letter opposing the project, Palaszczuk quipped, "Those who are writing such letters have good jobs. I know how tough the people are doing in my state."

"We have had some closure of companies like Queensland Nickel and the Clive Palmer's. With the downturn in the resources industry I have had other mine closures," she said.

"This project is not just a sign of confidence in Queensland. This project by the Adanis is a sign of confidence in regional jobs for families. It will give them such a boost.

And all the mayors have commented about that on this trip," the premier said.

She said the Adanis have committed to create 10,000 direct jobs and many thousands indirectly.

Palaszczuk, however, refused to set a time-line for the project, saying "that's a matter for the federal parliament. I understand that we are getting a report back today (on Friday when the interview took place).

"So, hopefully they will be able to debate it. I know it's very hot on my Prime Minister's agenda. So, I am quite sure they will debate it as soon as they possibly can," the premier said.

She also said the federal parliament will sit in the near future to get the piece of legislation through as the project is a high priority for them.