Indian coal mining company Adani has temporarily stopped engineering work on its proposed A$16.5bn ($12.5bn) Carmichael coal mine in Australia.
Guardian Australia quoted industry sources as saying that the company’s latest decision raises speculation that it may scrap the project.
Last week, four major engineering contractors were requested by Adani to halt work on projects that are around the Carmichael mine in Queensland.
The projects also include a joint venture rail line as well as the expansion of Abbot Point port.
According to sources, Adani suspended the work by WorleyParsons and Aecon, Aurecon and SMEC.
The company is said to be facing legal challenges from indigenous landholders, as well as conservation groups regarding the project due to its potential impact upon the Great Barrier Reef, groundwater at its site in addition to its carbon emissions.
Following media reports, Adani spokeswoman Kate Haddan was quoted by Reuters as saying: "This is only temporary." Adding that the company looks to start mining in 2017.
The statement from the company added: "For the past six to 12 months, Adani has maintained a level of investment, jobs and subcontractor engagement for its mine, rail and port projects in anticipation of finalising approvals and decisions. The project budget was based, understandably, on these anticipated approvals timelines and milestones."
"As a result of changes to a range of approvals over that time, it’s necessary to synchronise our budget, project timelines and spending to meet those changes."
In March, environmental group Coast and Country objected to the company’s project and claimed that it would endanger biodiversity in the region.
The group added saying that said that the Carmichael coal mine would endanger the climate, groundwater and the endangered black-throated finch.
Carmichael is a proposed thermal coal mine located in the north of the Galilee Basin in Central Queensland and is expected to produce 60 million tonnes of coal a year.
The company proposed to conduct mining using open-cut and underground methods.
Expected to have an operating life of about 90 years, the mine is set to extract four billion tonnes of coal resource.
Image: Satellite image of the Great Barrier Reef. Photo: courtesy of Nasa.