Adani readies mine as Australia looks to curb green challenges

Updated - December 02, 2016 11:48 am IST

Published - October 26, 2016 11:27 pm IST - SYDNEY:

A worker sprays water over piles of coal as a bulldozer shifts coal at Mundra Port Coal Terminal in the western Indian state of Gujarat April 2, 2014. The way billionaire Indian infrastructure-builder Gautam Adani sees it, working with the government does not make him a crony-capitalist. Adani's rapid ascent to the top tier of Indian business is often associated with the rise of Narendra Modi, the Hindu nationalist opposition leader widely expected to become India's next prime minister once the country's election ends next month. Its flagship Adani Enterprises soared 22.9 percent for its biggest daily gain on Thursday and has nearly doubled since the start of February, compared with a nearly 20 percent gain in the infrastructure index. Picture taken April 2, 2014.    REUTERS/Amit Dave (INDIA - Tags: BUSINESS COMMODITIES POLITICS ELECTIONS)

A worker sprays water over piles of coal as a bulldozer shifts coal at Mundra Port Coal Terminal in the western Indian state of Gujarat April 2, 2014. The way billionaire Indian infrastructure-builder Gautam Adani sees it, working with the government does not make him a crony-capitalist. Adani's rapid ascent to the top tier of Indian business is often associated with the rise of Narendra Modi, the Hindu nationalist opposition leader widely expected to become India's next prime minister once the country's election ends next month. Its flagship Adani Enterprises soared 22.9 percent for its biggest daily gain on Thursday and has nearly doubled since the start of February, compared with a nearly 20 percent gain in the infrastructure index. Picture taken April 2, 2014. REUTERS/Amit Dave (INDIA - Tags: BUSINESS COMMODITIES POLITICS ELECTIONS)

India's Adani Enterprises is preparing to start construction of a $7 billion coal mine in Australia in 2017 despite years of legal delays and rollercoaster coal prices, the conglomerate said.

“We are on schedule to start construction in the third quarter (of next year),” Adani spokesman Ron Watson said, although he added that billions of dollars in financing were still required, along with clearance from water authorities.

Progress on the project comes as Australia looks to potentially curb legal challenges to new mining developments following an onslaught of environmental suits aimed at delaying the Adani mine and others proposed in the Galilee Basin in the country's northeast.

Green activists Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull this week said his administration could present legislation to block green activists seeking to stymie projects. An earlier attempt to introduce such legislation was rejected by parliament amid stiff opposition.

“We have a robust democracy and people are entitled to bring their cases before the courts, but there is no doubt there have been very systematic, very well-funded campaigns against major projects so it's right to express concern about that,” Turnbull said.

“We did present some legislation in the last parliament but it was unsuccessful and we'll obviously reassess the tenor of the new Senate to see whether it would have the appetite for supporting it in the new environment.” The Carmichael mine has been hit by more than half-a-dozen court challenges and appeals despite its owner spending more than A$3 billion so far on the project.

Five cases opposing the mine remain before the courts, with critics concerned greenhouse gases from burning coal will hinder efforts to combat global warming. The mine would be twice the size of Australia's current largest coal mine and would yield as much as 60 million tonnes of coal per year from the site for 60 years.

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