Environment groups say the approval of the billion dollar Adani coal mine is a death sentence for the Great Barrier Reef, and are considering legal action to prevent it going ahead.
The first stage of the $16 billion megamine in Queensland's Galilee Basin was given the green light by the Adani board overnight, six years after the company first submitted applications to the federal government.
The controversial mine will produce up to 60 million tonnes of coal a year to be shipped through the Great Barrier Reef to India, where it will be used to provide electricity for up to 100 million people.
Backers of the mine say it will provide 10,000 jobs for the Queensland economy, but that claim has been cast into doubt by Adani’s own expert, who testified in court that the project will likely create only 1464 jobs.
Adani chairman Gautam Adani said Tuesday's announcement marked the official start of the mine, with construction to begin within months.
"We have been challenged by activists in the courts, in inner city streets, and even outside banks that have not even been approached to finance the project," Adani said in a statement.
"We are still facing activists, but we are committed to this project."
Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Nikola Casule told BuzzFeed News the approval of the "toxic mine" was a death sentence for the Great Barrier Reef.
Greenpeace is calling for state and federal governments to rule out loaning Adani any public funds to build the mine or support rail infrastructure.
"This announcement is a PR stunt from a company who know their mine can't go ahead without a huge handout of public money," Casule said.
Adani is yet to confirm where its financing is coming from, or whether it has secured a $900 million loan from the Australian federal government. Australia's big four banks (Westpac, ANZ, NAB and Commonwealth) have said they would not loan funds for the mine.
"Any commitment of public funds from the state or federal government would be a betrayal of ordinary Australians who overwhelmingly do not want their money invested in high polluting fossil fuel projects," Casule said.
20 environmental groups behind the Stop Adani Alliance (SAA) coalition - including the Bob Brown Foundation, GetUp! and the Australian Conservation Foundation - say they're considering legal action to prevent the mine from going ahead.
The mine doesn't have the consent of the land's traditional owners and the proposed amendments to the Native Title Act are stalled in the Senate.
“We will consider all avenues, including legal action, to stop it," SAA spokesperson Geoff Cousins said.
Sam Regester from left wing activist group GetUp! says the government isn't prepared for a massive backlash from Australians who think the project is "fundamentally wrong".
“Membership of the Stop Adani Alliance is blooming and Stop Adani local groups are popping up like mushrooms, with over 160 local groups around the nation," Regester said.
"We won’t stop until we stop Adani."
Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.
Contact Alice Workman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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