The process to obtain final approvals for energy giant Adani's Carmichael coal mine in Australia will be settled within three weeks, the leader of the country's Queensland state said on Friday as she sought to expedite the controversy-hit project.
If given the green light, Adani could begin breaking ground at its Carmichael mine site within weeks, after more than eight years of planning.
Adani group entered Australia in 2010 with the purchase of the greenfield Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin in central Queensland, and the Abbot Point port near Bowen in the north. The massive coal mine in Queensland state has been a controversial topic, with the project expected to produce 2.3 billion tonnes of low-quality coal.
In addition to its impact on climate change, environmentalists have argued the mine could do serious damage to Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Another major concern about the environmental impacts of the proposed mine has been that it would wipe out the most important habitat of the threatened black-throated finch.
Queensland's Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that the two last final approvals involving groundwater and endangered black-throat finch will be settled within the next three weeks.
According to media reports, Palaszczuk said the black-throated finch plan decision is due by the May 31, the groundwater management plan decision is due by the June 13th this year.
"I know initially people thought this was months, and what I''m announcing today is it''s in a matter of weeks," she said in Cairns. "Everybody needs to have these issues resolved. That''s the timeframe the Coordinator General has set," she added.
Earlier this week, Palascczuk ordered the state's Coordinator-General to bring Adani and the state environmental authority together for discussions stating that she was ''fed up'' with the ongoing delays.
While the post the final approval, the mining giant could start the work on the mine within weeks the coal exports could take up to two years.
"Now it''s really a case for the independent regulator to work through their internal processes and then they can make a determination and then we will be in a position to then start construction,'' ABC news quoted Chief Executive of Adani Australia Lucas Dow as saying.
"We're not expecting any significant surprises. Our construction activity will start as almost immediately as we've got these approvals," he said.
Dow said over the past 18 months the company had so far produced 11 versions of its groundwater plan and seven for the black-throated finch.
The groundwater management plan has failed to meet key environmental requirements, including identifying the source of protected desert springs.
Last month, the Federal Government granted its final environmental approvals for the project days before the election was called.
While construction at the mine could begin with approvals, Adani's proposed railway line plan is yet to be finalised.
Dow said the state's Coordinator-General would also be publishing dates for other key activities, including the deadline of completion for the rail line's deed of access and required sublease.
"That will also give us certainty and will also give the folks of central Queensland certainty of our project being able to proceed and deliver those jobs," he said.