The Government of Australia has cleared project proposals to expand a port for two coal projects of both Adani Enterprises and GVK Hancock opposed by green groups.
The Labor government in Queensland will allow mining companies Adani and GVK to dredge in Great Barrier Reef waters to expand a coal port but will make them pay for it themselves.
"The Queensland Government is restarting the approvals process for expanding the Abbot Point coal terminal in north Queensland in a bid to keep dredge spoil away from both the Great Barrier Reef and nearby wetlands," says an official statement.
The government’s deal with the miners on Abbot Point comes despite previous concerns from the UN – which will decide whether to list the reef “in danger” this year – about the impact of the project’s dredging and increased shipping.
Federal approval to dump dredging material from the port expansion in the Great Barrier Reef Marine
Park was opposed by both sides of politics during the January state election.
Indian conglomerates Adani Enterprises
and GVK, with separate projects worth at least A$17 billion ($13 billion), had feared the new Labor government would hold back development of the coal-rich Galilee Basin amid concerns about carbon emissions and damage to the Great Barrier Reef.
GVK Hancock, a joint venture between GVK and Hancock Prospecting, said the approvals from the Australian government for the expansion of the existing Abbot Point Port give them a clear line of sight to the end of an approvals process.
There's been years of uncertainty about Indian miner Adani's Carmichael coal mine project amid debate about the expansion of the mine's planned export terminal at Abbot Point.
The new deal protects the internationally-significant Caley Valley Wetlands, where a small portion of the dredged material would have been dumped under the previous Liberal National Party (LNP) government's plan.
Green groups welcomed the protection the wetlands, but questioned the need to expand the port at all.
The Queensland Government's new plan for the Abbot Point coal terminal still risks the reef and will contribute to climate change, the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) says.
New Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced yesterday she was honouring an election promise by ditching the old approvals process.
Ms Palaszczuk said the current application for federal approval would be withdrawn and a new environmental assessment and public consultation process would begin.