Adani’s plan $10-bn coalmine, railroad project in Australia

February 14th, 2012 - 5:20 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Feb 14 (IANS) India’s Adani Group has hit the Australian headlines with their $10-billion mega plan to build Queensland state’s largest coalmine, a 500-km railroad, a new township and even a Greenfield airport.

According to sources, chairman Gautam Adani was in Queensland, in the north-east of this country, last weekend to finalise various acquisitions and infrastructure projects that are associated with the planned coalmine and railroad.

Towards this end, the group had already acquired what is called the Carmichael Coal Project with 7.8 billion tonnes reserves. The Galilee Basin in central queensland, where the project is located, has a mine life of 100 years, the group said.

As per estimates, the cost of constructing the coalmine would be about $6.5 billion and when production touches optimal level, it will produce some 60 million tonnes of coal per year — mainly for exports to India.

“The initial output of 2 million tonnes per annum in 2014 will increase to deliver a maximum of 60 million tonnes from 2022,” the group Web site says, adding: “The exported coal from the project will predominantly service the Indian domestic power market.”

The Indian group is also said to be in talks with the Australian authorities to allow unskilled and skilled workers from overseas since there is an acute shortage of mining workforce in the booming Queensland state.

In Alpha, the town nearest to the project, the population is all of 50 people, and the state’s Mining Minister Stirling Hinchliffe estimates the requirement at 5,000 people at the beginning of the development of the mine.

“I have given a very clear message to the companies involved, including Adani directly, that we have a very high expectation about the role those Queenslanders will play in these projects,” Hinchliffe told ABC Radio Tuesday.

The Adani group had said that due to the remote location of the mine and excessive road distance for regular commuting, it would like to establish a local township and also construct an on-site airstrip to ferry its work force.

“This is the largest ever investment by any Indian company in Australia. The Carmichael Coal Project is also the single largest tenement in Australia in terms of coal resources,” says the Adani Group.

Many have welcomed the project but a debate has also started over overseas workers.

“These mines are like a cancer eating up all the productive cattle country, but they pay good money for them,” a well-respected Mackay grazier Peter Hughes told reporters recently.

“I’m a great believer in bringing in as many Filipinos and Indians to do the entire start-up infrastructure. There is nobody else out here to do the work,” the veteran farmer said.

Adani Group is an Indian entity with a global footprint with interests in power, energy, infrastructure, trading, logistics, ports, special economic zones, mining, oil and gas, agri-business, fast moving consumer goods and realty.

It was founded in 1988 with a capital of Rs.500,000 and today has a collective turnover of Rs.260 billion ($5.2 billion).

(Rekha Bhattacharjee can be reached at vijay@hotkey.net.au and biz@ians.in)

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