The Australian Environment Ministry has approved the expansion of the Port of Abbot Point in north Queensland, to facilitate transportation of coal from the Carmichael mine.
The Queensland Government sought the ministry’s approval for the Abbot Point Growth Gateway Project in April.
With the approval, work will be undertaken to dredge 1.1 million cubic metres in situ of seabed, and a pond will be constructed for the T0 terminal.
The site of the project is spread across approximately 61 hectares of seabed within port limits, outside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and is situated 400km from the coal-rich Galilee Basin and 25km north of Bowen on the north Queensland coast.
The expansion will increase the capacity of the Port of Abbot Point from 50 to 120 million tonnes per annum, enabling the handling of coal mined at Adani Group’s $16bn Carmichael mine.
Adani plans to establish a 189km long railway line from the Galilee Basin to the port.
The environmental ministry’s approval came with restrictions on dredging or dumping of material in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and in the Caley Valley Wetlands.
Port authority North Queensland Bulk Ports will oversee the construction, while the project will be financed by the Adani Group. It is expected to generate up to 17,500 jobs.
Queensland Development Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said: "The approval is another milestone towards realising the jobs and economic benefits that developing the Galilee Basin could bring to Queensland, while continuing to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
"There will be no dredging at the port until Adani demonstrates financial closure."
The development is, however, being opposed by environmental groups. Green Peace termed it an ‘illogical, irresponsible and unnecessary’ decision.
WWF Australia spokeswoman Louise Matthiesson said: "It’s disappointing that the Minister has approved this project within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, despite the damage it will do.
"To expand the port, 61 hectares of seabed will be ripped up creating 1.1 million cubic metres of dredge spoil."
Image: The government has put forth certain conditions to protect the Great Barrier Reef. Photo: courtesy of Richard Ling.