India’s Adani Enterprises Ltd was granted approval by Australia’s Queensland state government on Sunday to proceed with its proposed A$10 billion ($7.7 billion) Carmichael coal project in the Galilee Basin.
Queensland Premier Annastascia Palaszczuk said the approvals gave Adani permission to mine coal reserves estimated at 11 billion tonnes and to build roads, workshops, power lines and pipelines associated with the mine.
“Some approvals are still required before construction can start, and ultimately committing to the project will be a decision for Adani,” Palaszczuk said in a statement.
Adani said in a statement it would continue to finalize second tier approvals “with the clear aim of commencing construction in calendar year 2017”.
Progess would depend on resolving legal challenges from environmentalists, a company spokesman told Reuters.
The company has battled opposition from green groups since starting work on the project five years ago. Environmentalists continue to fight Adani’s project on numerous fronts and are lobbying banks not to provide loans.
They cite potential damage from port dredging, shipping and climate change stoked by coal from the mine. Two legal challenges to the project are currently before courts.
The Australian Conservation Foundation said in a statement the mine was “inconsistent with Australia’s international obligations” to protect the Great Barrier Reef as coal from the mine would stoke global warming and drive coral bleaching.
Several international banks have said they will not provide financing for coal mining in the Galilee Basin, while Standard Chartered and Commonwealth Bank of Australia pulled out of the project in August.
Analysts say Adani will also find it tough to raise financing for the project due to a prolonged downturn in the global coal market.
Adani’s spokesman said that tough market should not put pressure on the project because most of its coal is already earmarked for Adani-owned power plants in India, rather than for sale on the open market.