Australia’s Queensland Supreme Court has granted environmental approval for Indian company GVK Hancock’s A$6.9bn ($5.32bn) Alpha mine, rail and port project, rejecting appeals from anti-mining activists.
In its ruling, the court rejected an appeal to the previous decision of the Land Court of Queensland, as well as an appeal against environmental authority for GVKs proposed mine.
In April, the conservation group Coast and Country argued in the Supreme Court saying that the approval given by the Land Court ignored the impact of carbon emissions from the coal to be exported from the mine.
The group has urged the court to consider the impact on climate change of transporting in addition to using the exported coal.
According to GSK Hancock, the verdict combines the second and third court ruling in favour of its set of environmental assessments for the proposed project.
Without involving landholders in the region, the legal challenge was only brought forward by anti-mining activists.
GVK Hancock said in a statement: "This is a great day for Queensland as we can now get on with taking the next step towards creating thousands of jobs for the region and State.
"To date, we have invested tens of millions of dollars and thousands of man hours assessing, planning and engaging with communities to reach the point of achieving approvals, which included around 300 collaborative scientific studies, involving over 500 specialist consultants."
The Alpha Coal Project development is expected to create 5,000 jobs during around three years of construction and over 2,000 long-term positions during the operations that would be carried out for more than 30 years.
As part of its next steps, the company will continue to work with government to meet specific requirements that will allow for the grant of the mining lease for the project.
Upon finalisation of approvals, GVK plans to execute coal offtake agreements with customers and finalise all financing arrangements to prepare for construction to start.
Reuters reported Bruce Currie, one of the farmers represented in the case, speaking outside the Brisbane court
Currie said: "Justice has not been done. If this mine goes ahead, it risks draining away the groundwater that our lives and businesses depend on."
The proposed full open-cut mine is expected to produce 32 million tonnes of material a year for more than 30 years.
Image: Excavator in coal mine. Photo: courtesy of dan/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.