Green light close for nation’s most divisive project
IT'S the multi-billion dollar project that's divided millions of Australians, caused nationwide protests and landed dozens of people in jail.
But the bosses behind Adani claim they're in the final stages of getting the controversial mine up and running.
Karan Adani, the son of the company's owner, said the Indian conglomerate was on the verge of locking in the money it needed to finance a rail line that would service its $16.5 billion mine.
Mr Adani, the CEO of the company's port business, claims it will be ready to start as soon as the loan for the rail project comes in.
"We have completed the financing of the mine, the port is already operational. Now we are just closing on the financing on the rail part," he told The Economic Times of India. "So once that is done we will start."
However, Adani Australia later released a clarifying statement saying it continued to work to secure financing for the Carmichael project.
"Finance for the mine is contingent on securing finance for the rail component of the project as both are interdependent," the statement said.
In the interview, Mr Adani stressed the company had all the necessary government and environmental approvals it needed to get the Carmichael coal mine, in the Galilee Basin in central Queensland, up and running.
The rail financing for the project was "almost $US1 billion", he said. The rail line is needed to move coal from the mine to Abbot Point port, which is being expanded.
There had been questions over the rail financing after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk last year vetoed a $1 billion federal government loan to Adani for the project.
Previously, Australia's Big Four banks refused to put up money for the mine, forcing the company to look for funding overseas.
Federal Labor's environment spokesman Mark Butler, who opposes the mine, was sceptical of claims Adani would soon have the $1 billion required for the rail line.
"If I had a dollar for every front page where Adani said it had finance for this new coal mine I'd be a very rich man. Frankly, I'll believe it when I see it," Mr Butler told Sky News on Wednesday.
"My view about this project has been clear for some time. I don't think it stacks up. I don't think it is in the national interest."
The state Labor government has imposed more than 240 conditions on the Carmichael coal mine project, 132 of which relate to water conditions.
A month ago, the government also insisted Adani find the source of local groundwater before it signs off on the water management plan for the mine.
The Australian Conservation Foundation said the Carmichael mine would damage the Great Barrier Reef, threaten wildlife and the groundwater supply, and "turbo charge" climate change.
"This is not a project that represents the best interests of the community and the natural world we rely on," foundation chief Kelly O'Shanassy said in his statement.
"Now, more than ever, we need a commitment from all political parties that they will stop this polluting coal mine before it wrecks our safe climate and natural world."
- With Wires