Feds approve Carmichael rail

THE federal government approving Indian conglomerate Adani Mining’s North Galilee Basin Rail (NGBP) rail project is a beacon in the night for Australia’s struggling coal sector, the Queensland Resources Council said.
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Anthony Barich

The QRC said the approval for the $2.2 billion 310km rail line for Adani’s $16 billion Carmichael mine was a boon for Queensland, developers, as well as for Adani and their partners, Korean industrial giant POSCO.

The federal Environment Minister placed 23 conditions on the proposal upon green lighting the rail project, with Adani having to submit a biodiversity offset strategy two months ahead of construction starting.

Written consent will again be needed from the environment minister if construction on the rail line does not start in five years.

“There’s not been much good news of late for our coal sector and its employees, so this is just the sort of news that will be very welcome, particularly in our regional communities,” QRC CEO Michael Roche said.

He said the rail project, which received the Queensland government’s approval last month, would provide up to 2400 jobs, connecting the Carmichael mine northwest of Clermont to Abbot Point, north of Bowen.

He said the regional communities of Alpha, Clermont, Emerald, Bowen, Moranbah, Mackay, Rockhampton and Townsville were all expected to benefit from development of the so-far untapped resources in the Galilee Basin.

“Coal provides more than 40% of the world's electricity and is predicted to soon overtake oil as the largest source of primary energy,” he said.

“Despite baseless claims from the anti-coal brigade, the demand for thermal coal is forecast to rise substantially over coming decades with Asia alone requiring extra 46 million tonnes per annum of imported coal according to analysts HDR Salva.”

At its peak, the Carmichael mine is expected to produce 60 million tonnes per annum – less than one and a half year's forecast demand growth.

“We have seen activist groups try every trick in the book to disrupt and delay Galilee Basin projects, which not only delays the supply of electricity to the developing world but also economic benefits to Queensland, and regional communities in particular,” Roche said.

The Mackay Conservation Group said the rail line would increase flooding and damage farming land in central Queensland.

Mackay Conservation Group’s Moira Williams said graziers through central Queensland were facing major disruptions to their operations from the rail line which will bisect properties, interrupt cattle movements, alter surface water flow, and reduce access to land.

“Both the state and federal governments have completely disregarded concerns from local landholders, and this latest approval is yet another example of the LNP putting the profits of overseas mining companies at the expense of existing industries like agriculture,” she said.