In a relief to Indian mining giant Adani Group, an Australian court today rejected a bid by environmentalists to stop its 16.5 billion dollar controversy- hit Carmichael coal mine project, saying the firm can go ahead if it agrees to some environmental measures.
The mega project located in Queensland's Galilee Basin, which would be the biggest in Australia, was challenged by Conservation group Coast and Country in Brisbane Land Court on the ground that the mine would affect groundwater, climate change and biodiversity, including black-throated finches, an endangered species.
Land Court president Carmel MacDonald recommended state Environment Minister Greg Hunt to grant mining leases to Adani group on certain conditions including measures to protect the endangered black-throated finch, the ABC news reported.
"Those conditions include six hour monitoring of water bodies from dawn and greater assessments and surveys of the black-throated finch," it said.
MacDonald also ordered that the Ten Mile Bore region be investigated to determine their importance in sustaining the black-throated finch population.
Commenting on the ruling, Coast and Country lawyer Derec Davies said it was a disappointing result.
"Today's decision will pave the way to the destruction of some of Queensland's most beautiful ecosystems," he said.
"Days after a binding international climate agreement here we see an Indian mining company seeking to develop a massive coal mine," he said, referring to Paris climate deal which is intended to curb the use of fossil fuels.
Conservationists fear that the project threatens the Great Barrier Reef and vulnerable species while worsening global climate change.
The Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche said the decision showed the environmentalist group's claims were unfounded.
"This judgement is a comprehensive rejection of the activist argument against this huge job generating project, it's rejected the activist arguments around the financial viability of the project, it's rejected the activists arguments around the issue of climate change," he said.
The coal mine is facing another legal challenge in the Federal Court by the Australian Conservation Foundation.
Adani group says its project will deliver 10,000 direct and indirect jobs, and USD 22 billion in taxes and royalties to the state.
There was no immediate comments available from the mining group on Land Court's decision.