Mining giant Adani said on Friday it was ready to start work on a 388km rail link of its proposed $16.5 billion Carmichael coal mine project in Australia. The announcement comes after several protests were held against the project, tipped to be Australia’s largest coal mine with six open-cut pits and up to five underground mines, last week.
Adani Australia CEO Jeyakumar Janakaraj said milestones in the project were being achieved every day, including in surveying, geotechnical works, detailed designing, cultural heritage and financing. “Every day we are moving forward. Our pre-construction works are well advanced. The pre-construction teams are working at the mine site and along the rail corridor doing cultural heritage inspections and recordings,” he said.
Janakaraj said they were confident of delivering their first coal tranche in March 2020. “We will break ground within days to mark the official start of work on the rail link. We also still have major contract announcements in coming weeks,” he said.
The 388km rail line will connect the Carmichael coal mine to the Melbourne sea port. Thousands of protesters took to streets in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, the Gold Coast and Port Douglas in North Queensland as part of a National Day of Action, demanding the project be stopped.
Environmental activists had flagged concerns about the potential impacts to the Great Barrier Reef as the coal would be shipped through areas close to the site. There are also concerns the coal burned will contribute to climate change.
In response, Janakaraj said the company was committed to creating jobs in Australia and there was large support for the project in the regional belt. The company, which has managed to clear 200 stringent conditions for the project and several legal challenges from environmental groups, is aiming to start exporting coal via its Abbot Point coal terminal in 2020. Last week, Adani also named the cities of Rockhampton and Townsville as ‘Fly-in-Fly-out’ (FIFO) worker hubs for its employees.