Resources giant Adani is forging ahead with its controversial Carmichael coal mine, dashing lingering uncertainty by announcing on Thursday it would foot all project bills itself.
In a sign of how polarising the project has become, the announcement was met with equal parts congratulations and condemnation.
Adani Mining chief executive Lucas Dow announced the company would self-finance the project during a meeting of mining industry players at the Bowen Basin Mining Club.
The revised plan is substantially smaller to what Adani had initially proposed for the Carmichael mine in central Queensland.
“Our work in recent months has culminated in Adani Group’s approval of the revised project plan that de-risks the initial stage of the Carmichael mine and rail project by adopting a narrow gauge rail solution combined with a reduced ramp up volume for the mine,” Mr Dow said.
"The project stacks up both environmentally and financially. Today’s announcement removes any doubt as to the project stacking up financially."
Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan enthusiastically welcomed the announcement.
"Adani’s ability to re-scope and finance its Carmichael mine and rail project proves it is a viable, job-creating concern which stands on its own two feet financially and environmentally,” Minister Canavan said.
“This type of commitment is the hallmark of Queensland’s resources sector, which has a well-earned reputation of being the powerhouse of Queensland’s economy."
Queensland opposition leader Deb Frecklington said the mine would create desperately-needed jobs.
“The Carmichael mine has been subject to rigorous approvals processes and now it is time for the Palaszczuk government to approve the final management plans so Queenslanders can get these jobs,” she said.
“The LNP has been the only political party that has consistently supported opening up the Galilee Basin.”
The plan was also applauded by federal member for Dawson George Christensen as well as Whitsunday Regional Mayor Andrew Willcox.
Australian Conservation Foundation chief executive Kelly O’Shanassy condemned the announcement.
"Make no mistake. Many on both sides of politics understand burning the coal from the Adani mine and the broader Galilee Basin will be terribly damaging for our climate," she said.
"This financing announcement means ignorance, denial or avoidance are no longer viable. The only responsible response is to stop Adani and keep Galilee Basin coal in the ground."
There are longstanding concerns among Queensland producers that the Carmichael mine would drain huge amounts of water from the Great Artesian Basin, irreversibly damaging dependent ecosystems.
"It's bloody-minded and barbaric," grazier Bruce Currie said last year after Adani was granted unlimited access to groundwater.
The Lock the Gate Alliance said Adani’s bullish announcement was “wishful thinking”, pointing out that approval was still needed for the mine’s groundwater ecosystem management plan.
“While central Queensland suffers from drought, heatwaves and bushfires, the last thing Queenslanders want is this colossal, water guzzling mine which will fuel extreme weather further,” spokeswoman Ellie Smith said.
“It’s time for the Queensland Government to get off the fence and protect our water.”
The Australian Marine Conservation Society said the decision to plough ahead with the mine “defies belief”.
“The world’s climate scientists have made it abundantly clear that to save our Great Barrier Reef we must have no new coal mines and shut all coal plants by 2030,” spokeswoman Imogen Zethoven said.
“We will fight this to the end. This is not a done deal. Adani still needs environmental approvals. They don’t have native title access.”
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