MELBOURNE -- Indian mining giant Adani's 16.5 billion dollar controversy-hit coal mine project in Australia today faced a fresh legal challenge from an environmental group which sought cancellation of a new government approval, saying it would harm the fragile Great Barrier Reef and add to climate change.
The mega project located in Queensland's Galilee Basin was last month granted the new approval by Environment Minister Greg Hunt.
The mine, which would be the biggest in Australia, was approved subject to 36 strict conditions after a court action sidelined the project earlier this year because of its impact on the ornamental snake and yakka skink, a vulnerable species that hides under rocks.
The Australian Conservation Foundation said Environment Minister Hunt failed to consider whether the impact of climate pollution, resulting from burning the mine's coal, would be inconsistent with Australia's international obligations to protect the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.
"The Great Barrier Reef is loved by Australians and overseas visitors, but it will soon be gone if we allow climate change to keep accelerating," ACF President Geoff Cousins said.
"Coral reef scientists are telling us that in just a few decades warmer waters could bleach the Reef beyond recognition. This would be a tragedy for Australia and the world," he added.
"The minister has acknowledged climate change is affecting the Great Barrier Reef, yet the approval of the Carmichael mine will create more pollution, make global warming worse and irreversibly damage the Reef," Cousins said.
He said ACF believes the federal government's re-approval of a coal mine that would produce more climate pollution than New Zealand does annually is reckless and irresponsible.
"Taking legitimate legal action in the public interest is central to keeping governments accountable in a democracy," Cousins said.
Commenting on the development, the Adani company said, "Today's announcement by the ACF is the latest in a litany of attempts by politically-motivated activists seeking to endlessly delay new, job creating projects in Queensland."
"Adani has consistently said that what is required for major job creating resource projects to proceed in this state and in Australia more broadly is regulatory and approvals certainty," it noted.
"It is one thing for a project's approval to be challenged. It is quite another to wait for previous challenges to fail, then launch new ones on different grounds over, and over again, seeking endless delay, and endlessly abusing process," it said in a statement.
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