The project still needed nine further approvals from the Federal and Queensland state governments before mining can start.
Melbourne: India’s Adani Enterprises has taken a step closer to the construction of a controversial thermal coal mine in Australia after winning federal government approval for its groundwater management plan.
Adani wants to develop the Carmichael coal deposit in Queensland state, but has faced fierce environmental resistance that has turned the project into a political hot potato ahead of a federal election due next month.
Environment Minister Melissa Price said on Tuesday the project still needed nine further approvals from the Federal and Queensland state governments before mining can start.
“This decision does not comprise the final approval for this project,” she said.
The groundwater management plan also requires approval from the state government, the state’s environmental department told Reuters last week, which is also assessing a management plan for an endangered bird.
While the Carmichael project would create jobs and has strong support in the region, both the ruling conservative Liberal-National coalition and opposition Labor parties fear losing votes in major cities where voters are worried about climate change.
A Queensland government official told Reuters in February that Adani may have to wait up to two years for some environmental approvals.
Adani said last year it would fully fund the coal mine and rail project itself, but did not give an updated estimate of the cost of the mine, previously estimated at about A USD 4 billion (2.9 billion).
Adani was not immediately available on Tuesday to comment.