Melbourne, Nov 4 (IANS) Australia's federal government has given a mega Diwali gift to India's GVK group by approving the gigantic coal mining project in Queensland state in the country's northeast.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt approved the 37,380 hectare Kevin's Corner project Friday.
"We commend the Federal Government on its thorough environmental assessment process and its decision to approve this significant project that will create immense employment opportunities," GVK Reddy, founder chairman and managing director of the Indian conglomerate, said in a media release.
GVK had acquired, according to a company media release, a 100 percent stake in the Kevin's Corner project in Queensland - Australia's second largest state - from Hancock Prospecting Pty. Ltd. and a 79 percent stake in the Alpha Coal and Alpha West Coal projects.
When combined, the Galilee Basin projects will create one of the largest coal mining operations in the world holding total resources of 8 billion tonne and a peak capacity of around 80 million tonne every year.
"This approval comes as a major milestone towards our goal of becoming the premier and most reliable coal supplier to the world thus enabling better lives.
"It further strengthens our commitment to deliver world-class infrastructure projects in a timely and responsible manner," said Dr Reddy said.
Queensland Resources Council acting chief executive Greg Lane has also welcomed the approval of the largest coal mining project in Australia and has stated that GVK owned project would "improve living standards for millions of people in India" besides opening up "one of world's most exciting new coal provinces.
"GVK is to be congratulated for its commitment to this project in the toughest operating environment that the Queensland coal industry has faced this century," Greg Lane said about a project which is estimated to generate 1800 construction jobs and 1600 operational jobs.
The A$4.2 billion project would rely on the railway infrastructure to be constructed by the Alpha Coal project to transport coal to the Port of Abbot Point in Bowen.
However, various Australian environmentalist organisations have slammed the federal government's approval to GVK-Hancock mega coal mining project. Kevin's Corner will use, Greenpeace has reportedly alleged, more than nine billion litres of water a year. Another environmentalist group, Lock the Gate Alliance, has urged for more information on the impact of the proposed coal mine on Galilee Basin groundwater.
Australia is witnessing a raging debate over the mining and coal seam gas extraction and their perceived impact on aquifers, rivers and water catchments. Various water science experts have asked the Australian government to not give approvals to any mining proposals that would "adversely impact water supplies".
Incidentally, GVK's Kevin's Corner mining project is the first to be approved since the introduction of a new water trigger rule introduced by the Greens supported previous federal government.
It is expected that construction on the GVK-Hancock coal mine would commence in 2015 and the production is likely to start three years after that.
(Paritosh Parasher can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org )