Mumbai, Aug 29: Adani Enterprises on Monday said it has overcome one of its last legal hurdles over the $16.5 billion dollar Carmichael coal project in Australia’s Queensland state, and said construction will begin next year.  The country’s Federal Court dismissed an appeal by the Australian Conservation Foundation that had argued that the authorities had failed to take into account the impact of burning coal and climate pollution on the Great Barrier Reef.  The $16.5 billion coal project in the state’s Galilee basin is the largest in Australia but has suffered multiple setbacks from green groups’ legal action.(ALSO READ: Adani Transmission Ltd to raise Rs 500 crore via offshore Masala bonds)

Adani Australia, in a statement, said that it had welcomed the Federal Court ruling, adding that the decision closely follows an August 19 dismissal of another activist-driven legal challenge designed to delay the project.  Consistent with earlier decisions of Queensland’s Land Court and the Federal Court affirming the company’s approvals, it has determined that due process has been followed, the statement added.  “A recent report by PwC quantified the cost of these delays as being some 3 billion Australian dollars ($2.26 billion) to the economy and over 1,600 jobs annually over the first 10 years of the intended projects,” it said.

“In local communities, a state and a national economy crying out for growth, this represents a significant cost to the community, not just to Adani.”  The company said it has been consistently pointing out that these projects will supply better-quality coal for an increased thermal demand, in conjunction with significantly increased solar demand, in a growing Indian economy that will lift hundreds of millions of people out of energy poverty.  “If the better-quality, better-regulated coal from Australia is not sourced in Queensland, it will simply mean lower-quality, higher-emitting coal from elsewhere in the world will be used,” Adani said.

“So the activists will not only harm local jobs, but if they get their way (it) would ensure higher emissions as well.”  The company said activist-driven challenges were part of a known minority campaign, adding that they fly in the face of the strong support its job-creating projects have from local communities and other stakeholders in North and Central Queensland. “Indeed, over six years, there have been multiple approval processes, some two years of cumulative community consultation and submissions as part of the processes and over 10 appeals and judicial processes brought on by activists,” the statement said.

“There can be no question that there has been more than ample opportunity for consultation, input and appeal, and for activists to have their say,” it said. The time, it said, has come for those who want the projects to be heard — and not just the activists from out of town.  “Adani stands ready to deliver on its long-term future with Queensland, pending the resolution of a small number of outstanding legal challenges. As the company has previously indicated, if those issues are finalised, construction can commence in 2017.”