- allowing the Project to proceed as planned would help contain development to existing ports,
- the strict environmental conditions imposed on the Project by the federal government would help to protect the reef, and
- it would support the use of an alternative site if one is found to be equal to, or better, in terms of environmental or heritage outcomes.
On 11 October 2013, Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt (Minister) approved three North-Queensland projects.
The Minister approved:
- the Abbot Point capital dredging program which involves removal of 3 million cubic meters of spoil in respect of Terminals 0, 2 and 3, making the Port of Abbot Point one of the world’s largest coal ports;
- Adani’s T0 Project, a $3 billion, 70mtpa expansion of Terminal 1 at the Port of Abbot Point and associated infrastructure (including a 2.75km outloading jetty and conveyor, new wharves, ship loaders and development of two offshore berths);
- Arrow Energy’s Curtis Island LNG processing plant, a $17.46 billion project involving a 9.45km underwater gas transmission pipeline from the mainland to Curtis Island.
The Minister’s approval of the projects was accompanied by some of the ‘strictest conditions in Australian history’ due to the potential impact on the Great Barrier Reef. The Minister imposed 95 environmental conditions on the Abbot Point capital dredging program and 53 on the Curtis Island LNG processing plant.
Indian mining giants GVK and Adani Group, the owners of Terminal 3 and Terminal 0 (respectively) stand to benefit most from the Minister’s approval. Both companies are developing significant coal projects (and associated infrastructure) in the Galilee Basin, the coal from which is expected to be exported through the Port of Abbot Point.
The projects mentioned above are all still subject to final investment decision.