The Australian Government has approved the expansion of existing coal port at Adani Group’s Abbot Point near Bowen in north Queensland, provided that the dredge spoils are disposed of correctly.

Approval has been granted by the Australian Department of Environment and includes various stringent conditions that the project must implement before proceeding.

Adani’s $12.5bn Carmichael project in the Galilee Basin requires coal to be shipped through the Abbot Point Coal Terminal, which is also close to the Great Barrier Reef.

Conservationists’ fear the mine would export up to 60 million tonnes of coal across the reef every year and damage the ecosystem.

Environment minister Greg Hunt spokeswoman told AFP: "The Queensland state Labor government’s Abbot Point Growth Gateway project has been approved in accordance with national environment law subject to 30 strict conditions.

"All dredge material will be placed onshore on existing industrial land. No dredge material will be placed in the World Heritage Area or the Caley Valley Wetlands."

"No dredge material will be placed in the World Heritage Area or the Caley Valley Wetlands."

Following the approval, 1.1 million cubic metres of seabed can be dredged and freighters would be permitted to dock at Abbot Point.

The expansion will allow coal from projects such as Carmichael mine to be shipped for export.

Queensland Minister for State Development and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Anthony Lynham said that if one or more of the proposed Galilee Basin coal mine projects go ahead, the port could be developed to allow increased exports.

Lynham said: "The approval is another milestone towards realising the jobs and economic benefits that developing the Galilee Basin could bring to Queensland, while continuing to protect the Great Barrier Reef."

The approval requires dredge spoil to be placed on land on the site known as T2, adjacent to the existing coal terminal.

Image: Satelite image of the Great Barrier Reef. Photo: courtesy of Nasa.