Due to strong mining regulations, Australia has good regulatory and enforcement mechanisms in place and Adani group is required to follow 36 conditions for their coal mine. Can India also adopt and follow the same module?
It is gratifying to note that Adani Group has received the Australian Government's approval for Adani Minings' proposal to build a coal mine and a linked rail project at a total estimated cost of $16.5 billion. This is expected to be established in Queensland. The Carmichael coal mine, when fully developed, will be able to produce some 60 million tonnes annually.
Located in the North of Galilee Basin, the mine is expected to involve open cut and underground mining operations. Sixty million tonnes of coal that will be mined there is expected to be shipped back to India, which will facilitate power supply to about 100 million people.
To facilitate this operation, it may be recalled that, recently, Adani group signed a partnership deal with Korea's Posco E&C, which would be responsible to build a 388kms long North Galilee Basin Rail. Development of the port to move this large volume of coal will also be done simultaneously.
All these activities are expected to create employment opportunities for over 10,000 Australians. It would follow that when power is generated with these 60 million tonnes of coal, in India, it would help in establishing various business opportunities in India too.
In approving the project, according to press reports, Greg Hunter, Minister for Environment in Australia has laid 36 stringent conditions for Adani Mining Pty Ltd to comply with. Not an easy task! The requirements have been laid bare to follow. They will be strictly enforced by the Australian government.
Greenpeace is up in arms against this project, which believes that this coal mining activity will immediately affect 28,000 hectares of bushland. It will affect some 60 threatened species. It will consume 12 billion litres of water that would be extracted from local rivers and aquifers and all other similar issues affecting the environment.
At every stage, Adani Mining may expect the strictest vigilance (and also protests?) from the Greenpeace activists. The Australian Environment Ministry is also taking every known precaution to ensure that ground water is protected in all possible ways, which is a major cause for worry.
Press reports also indicate that, by this development, Queensland's economy will grow richer by $2.97 billion annually.
Apart from ensuring Adani Mining to comply with all 36 conditions, the Environment Ministry expects them to make available 730 mega litres of water to the Great Artesian Basin, besides monitoring changes in the ground water level.
This project, though acquired in 2010, has taken all these months to get the final clearance. It was expected to go on stream by 2016 - at that time. It could take a little longer now. Knowing the keen interest and the work culture at Adanis, one may expect the project to progress reasonably well. The support that they expect to get from the Queensland government is good.
In a separate development, Melanie Stutsel, a Director of Minerals Council of Australia, during a recent visit to India, appears to have had some serious discussions with the Ministry of Coal with regard to mining. She has indicated that Australia would welcome investment opportunities. She also expressed her willingness for technology transfer. In the case of the coal mining industry, she had discussions on coal technology, coal washing and other matters of environmental concerns, including social obligations. Hinting that, now, there are no "illegal mining activities" in Australia, unlike India, she explained that due to strong mining regulations the Australian industry has good regulatory and enforcement mechanisms in place. India could find it useful to study how they have been able to achieve this, so that we could employ similar methods to suit Indian conditions.
According to press reports, she has further indicated that opening up the Indian mining industry to bigger global players could bring about development and improved performance. She has suggested that, perhaps, India could use satellite monitoring to get a better handle on the level of deforestation. Maybe, the MoEF could apply this technique to assess the ground reality in the country.
As a matter of interest, India should applaud the efforts of Adani group in making headway in Australia, and request the Ministry of Coal and MoEF to make available a virgin coal mine to them to develop the same in the India.
India needs this development more than ever before.
has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)