MELBOURNE (Reuters) - An Australia coal mine proposed by India’s Adani Enterprises that has been in planning since 2010 has become a lightning rod for a debate on climate change ahead of the Australian election next month.
The mine, which has found support in marginal Queensland state because of the regional jobs it could provide, has also come under increasing fire from voters after a series of extreme weather events over summer moved climate concerns up the political agenda.
Adani is fighting an uphill battle to get approval as investors demand banks and insurers phase out funding fossil fuels, and after prices for Australian thermal coal tanked over the past few months following delayed Chinese customs clearance.
Australia’s ruling Liberal-National coalition government approved an environmental permit relating to groundwater management last week but said there are still nine permits to go.
Below are a series of milestones in the development of the mine.
* India’s Adani agreed to buy the Galilee coal project in Queensland from Australia’s Linc Energy in a cash and royalty deal worth $2.7 billion (£2.06 billion) in 2010.
* The purchase was envisaged to possibly unlock as much as $28 billion in coal projects by opening up the Galilee basin, building rail infrastructure and creating the world’s biggest coal port, adjoining the Great Barrier Reef.
* Adani was initially looking to develop the Carmichael mine at a cost of $4.1 billion, with the aim of producing 60 million tonnes a year of coal for export mostly to power stations in India.
* Early plans would have involved building a 185 km (115 miles) rail line, estimated to cost $6.8 billion, according to the state government's project website at the time. www.deedi.qld.gov.au
* The proposed development, which would require an expansion at a port that Adani bought in 2011, included dredging near the environmentally sensitive Great Barrier Reef, fuelled fierce opposition by environmentalists and indigenous groups.
* In 2012, Adani’s Australian chief quit amid delays in getting approval for the project.
* India’s biggest private sector coal trader acquired the Abbot Point Coal Terminal port from the Queensland government in 2011, considering it a key part of its plan to ship coal from Australia to India and for other exports.
* Analysts have say building the mine would help make Adani’s port more profitable. It already has long-term “take-or-pay” contracts with coal exporters such as Glencore Plc and Japan’s Mitsubishi Corp and Sumitomo Corp.
* Australia’s Great Barrier Reef watchdog gave the green light in Jan 2017 for millions of cubic metres of dredged mud to be dumped near the fragile reef, sparking further protests.
* Adani announced a revised mine plan late last year, saying it would fund the project itself after it struggled to find lenders, as it cut the mine’s scope to 10 million tonnes, or one sixth of its former size.
* A Queensland government official told Reuters in February that Adani might have to wait up to two years to get two environmental approvals to start construction.
Reporting by Melanie Burton.; Editing by Lincoln Feast.