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Adani Australian coal mine approval faces fresh court challenge

Coal falls from a stacker/reclaimer to a stockpile at the coal port in Newcastle June 6, 2012. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz/Files

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - A green group has asked the Supreme Court of Queensland to review the environmental approval granted to Indian conglomerate Adani Enterprise Ltd to build one of the world’s biggest coal mines in the Australian state.

Adani, which was granted a mining lease by Queensland earlier this month, has battled opposition from green groups since starting work on the coal project six years ago. Environmentalists continue to fight it on numerous fronts and are lobbying banks not to provide loans.

In the latest challenge to the $10-billion Carmichael mine, rail and port project, conservation group Coast and Country said Queensland had failed to consider “ecologically sustainable development”, an overall environmental safety net, as required.

“The department cannot just ignore those laws that will allow the big end of town to develop a huge, polluting coal mine that will create catastrophic environmental harm both now and into the future,” Derec Davies, with Coast and Country, said in a statement.

He pointed to alarming levels of coral bleaching already threatening the Great Barrier Reef as an example of the kind of damage that pollution from burning coal could wreak if the Carmichael mine goes ahead.

With coal prices stuck near nine-year lows and demand growth uncertain as governments have committed to curb carbon emissions, analysts have said lenders will be reluctant to back Adani’s mega project.

However Adani, which aims to start building the Carmichael mine in 2017, expects to be able to go ahead eventually as most of the coal is slated to go to its own power stations in India.

“Notwithstanding this challenge, Adani stands ready to deliver on its plans to build a long term future with Queensland,” an Adani spokesman said in emailed comments.

Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Himani Sarkar