The Australian Government has given its go-ahead to India-based Adani Group to proceed with its long-delayed $12.5bn Carmichael Coal Mine project in central Queensland.
Australia Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt approved the project in accordance with national environment law, subject to 36 of the strictest conditions.
Greg Hunt said in a statement: "In making this decision, I have considered additional information provided by Adani and environmental groups, including the Mackay Conservation Group, the Environmental Defenders Office and the Australian Conservation Foundation.
"I have the power to suspend or revoke the approval and strict penalties apply if there is a breach of the strict conditions. Department of Environment compliance and enforcement officers will closely monitor the operation of the mine."
The conditions imposed by the minister ensure that the proponent must meet the highest environmental standards.
Under the conditions, the company has to implement all advice from the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on coal seam gas and large coal mining development.
Adani should protect and improve 31,000ha of southern black throated finch habitat.
The conditions require $1m of funding for research programmes in a bid to improve conservation of threatened species in the Galilee Basin over a period of ten years.
Hunt said that rigorous conditions will protect threatened species, while providing long-term benefits for the environment.
Greg Hunt also approved Adani Mining's $2.2bn North Galilee Basin Rail project with 23 strict conditions.
The 300km rail line will connect the Carmichael coal mine west of Moranbah to the port of Abbot Point and would transport around 100mt of coal a year.
Mackay Conservation Group filed a lawsuit against the mine in January alleging that it would have been exporting up to 60mt of coal across the Great Barrier Reef Coast every year if built.
Image: Satelite image of the Great Barrier Reef. Photo: courtesy of NASA.