The federal government has approved Indian mining giant Adani’s proposal to develop one of the world’s biggest coal mines in Queensland.
The tick from Environment Minister Greg Hunt comes two months after the state government gave its approval.
Mr Hunt said 36 strict conditions would be imposed on the coal mine and rail project in the Galilee Basin.
“The absolute strictest of conditions have been imposed to ensure the protection of the environment, with a specific focus on the protection of groundwater,” he said in a statement.
“I am pleased that we have been able to apply some of the strictest environment conditions in Australian history as part of this decision.”
The project would have a resource value of $5 billion a year during its 60-year life, Mr Hunt said.
In May, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said environmental concerns had been addressed in approving a project forecast to produce 60 million tonnes of thermal coal a year for export.
Adani’s project is expected to create 2475 construction jobs as a 300-kilometre rail line is built to connect and develop its Carmichael Coal Mine, northwest of Clermont, to the controversial Abbot Point coal port, near the Great Barrier Reef.
Another 3920 jobs would remain during mine operation.
But Greenpeace said the project would be Australia’s largest coal mine, if built, adding that the government appointed Independent Expert Scientific Committee had voiced concerns about groundwater.
The activist group’s program director Ben Pearson said Mr Hunt had “laid out the red carpet for a coal company with a shocking track record”.
In December, Mr Hunt said the government had imposed “some of the strictest conditions in Australian history” when it approved a controversial port dredging project at Abbot Point.