* GVK-Hancock venture gets conditional recommendation for
Australia coal mine
* Court say must meet strict environmental conditions over
* Partners say ready to work with regulators landholders
(Adss comment, detail)
By James Regan
SYDNEY, April 8 Indian conglomerate GVK Power &
Infrastructure Ltd and Australia's richest woman on
Tuesday were ordered to meet strict environmental conditions
over water conservation before developing a coal mine in the
arid Australian Outback estimated to cost $10 billion.
The Land Court of Queensland recommended Queensland state
approve a mining lease for the Alpha thermal coal mine as long
as conditions were met on addressing objections made under the
Mineral Resources Act and the Environmental Protection Act.
GVK Hancock, a joint venture between GVK and mining magnate
Gina Rinehart's private Hancock Prospecting, said it was ready
to work with environmental regulators and landowners to meet the
recommendations of the Land Court.
The partners had already gained federal clearance to develop
the Alpha thermal coal mine in the remote Galilee Basin, where
hundreds of million tonnes of thermal coal remain unexploited.
Farmers and other landowners in the area claim the Alpha
mine and others would draw too much water away from farmland.
Collieries require large quantities of water for washing
coal before its is shipped, as well as for suppressing dust.
Under the recommendations, the mine's operators will be
required to make additional water available to other users and
keep adequate supplies on hand.
To date, ambitious plans to introduce mining to the Galilee
Basin, 500 miles from the nearest port, have been derailed not
by concerns over water but rather by weak coal prices and
Others proposed mines in the Galilee Basin include a separate
GVK project, and ones by China First and India's Adani
The conditional recommendation follows a six-month court
challenge initiated by farmers and community groups.
"The Land Court's decision vindicates our concern about the
impact on groundwater of the mega coal mines planned for the
Galilee, including the Alpha mine, and the concerns of the
affected landholders and farmers who were objectors to the mine
in the legal challenge," said Tom Crothers, former general
manager of water planning and allocation in Queensland.
(Editing by Joseph Radford)