The government in Australia has given the go-ahead for the controversial Abbott Point expansion project, which will require investment of $12.1 billion. This is being funded by Adani Enterprises in the Galilee Basin and will increase the coal handling capacity of the existing terminal.

Given that the work will involve the dredging of one point 1.1 million m3 of spoil, environmentalists have argued that this will cause damage to the Great Barrier Reef.

However, the Environment Minister has imposed 30 strict conditions on the project. Indeed, earlier plans to dredge 3 million m3 of material, which would then be dumped into the water around the Great Barrier Reef Maritime Park, have been completely abandoned. Spoil extracted as part of the new project will have to be disposed of on existing industrial land.

The Environment Minister also stressed that the port is some 20km from any coral reef and therefore no coral reef would be negatively impacted by the work.

The Environment Minister additionally emphasized that Indian power stations would be able to use the higher quality Australian coal rather than have to rely on cheaper and poorer quality coal from elsewhere.

Adani mines in Australia are due to produce around 60 million tonnes of thermal coal a year for export. The company claims that the expanded terminal will generate 10,000 jobs, both directly and indirectly.

Some in the industry believe the new initiative will never make money, given falling coal prices globally. Indeed, Greenpeace labelled the decision by the government has both “illogical and unnecessary”. It went on to say that Adani has yet to source the necessary investment and might struggle to do so at a time of falling prices.

Barry Cross