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A rally to protect the Reef from new shipping ports for exporting coal and minerals. (Photo: FusionVision/cc/flickr)

Great Barrier Reef Be Damned, Australia's Biggest Coal Mine Project Moves Forward

Andrea Germanos

In the wake of warnings over the industry's threats to the Great Barrier Reef, the Australian state of Queensland on Thursday gave the OK to one of the world's biggest coal mines.

The slated project is the Adani Enterprises-owned Carmichael Mine in the state's Galilee Basin, and it is expected to produce as much as 60 million tonnes of coal a year and also include a rail line and water infrastructure.

"If it proceeds," said Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney, "the Carmichael project would not only be the largest coal mine in Australia and one of the largest in the world, but a vital project in opening up the hugely significant Galilee Basin."

Reuters reports that

[t]he port that Adani plans to use, Abbot Point, is facing a legal challenge from environmentalists fighting expansion plans that would involve dredging up 3m cubic meters of sand and dumping it near the Great Barrier Reef.

Seeney said this and other approvals show that Queensland "is open for business."

The project now awaits approval at the federal level.

The green light for the project comes a day after the Australian Marine Conservation Society warned in a report that the Great Barrier Reef faces an 'unprecedented' threat from industrial development as a result of seabed dredging for coal industry expansion. It also comes on the heels of a warning from UNESCO to re-list the Reef as a World Heritage in Danger site due to the "range of significant threats affecting the property," including the dredging at Abbot Point.

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