Melbourne/Hyderabad: Australian government on Wednesday approved with strict conditions a coal terminal at a port by India's GVK group that forms part of the USD 10 billion Alpha Coal project in central Queensland.
With this, all the three components of the project - mining, rail and port - have received clearance.
The approval was given but subject to strict conditions, Environment Minister Tony Burke said in an official statement.
He said the approval for the second stage of the Alpha Coal project had been granted subject to 60 strict conditions to protect matters of national environmental significance, including the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and the marine area.
Last year, GVK had acquired 79 per cent stake in Alpha Coal and Alpha West projects, and a 100 per cent stake in the Kevin's Corner project in Queensland from Hancock Prospecting Pty Ltd.
The project includes Alpha Coal Mine and a railway line between the mine and the port at Abbot Point, near Bowen.
GVK Vice-Chairman G V Sanjay Reddy said in a statement the company is the only coal developer in Australia to possess environmental approvals at a state and federal level that integrate the mine, rail and port.
"Importantly, we believe the overall assessment process has resulted in best practice environmental protection outcomes which we support whole-heartedly," Reddy said.
A GVK spokesperson said that now the financial closure of the project will be put on fast-track.
Meanwhile, Bruke said, "This decision follows a rigorous assessment process including the opportunity for public comment."
He added, "The conditions I have set manage impacts on listed threatened species, as well as impacts on the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and the marine area.
"These conditions will assist us in maintaining our commitment to sustainable development and ensure the outstanding universal values of the Great Barrier Reef are protected."
The proponent will need to develop a seagrass offset package consistent with the country's approach to environmental protection, he said.
"Under this seagrass offsets scheme the proponent must work with the Queensland Government to identify opportunities to protect and conserve seagrass, the vital asset that protects threatened species including dolphins, marine turtles and dugongs," Burke said.
First Published: Wednesday, October 10, 2012, 10:45