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GVK cleared to build Queensland coal terminal
CANBERRA (Reuters) - GVK Power and Infrastructure (GVKP.NS) cleared a major hurdle for a A$10 billion coal project in Australia, winning federal government approval for a new export terminal in Queensland state.
The green-light allows GVK and its Australian partner, the country's richest person, Gina Rinehart, to expand the existing Port of Abbot Point for the planned Alpha coal project.
The project, now awaiting a mining lease from the state, is key to meeting the coal ambitions of GVK, a conglomerate with interests in airports, hotels and transportation. The project could help meet India's huge appetite for coal, which feeds two-thirds of the country's power production.
Approval from Canberra had been seen as a big obstacle after environmentalists expressed worries about coal burning, port dredging and ship traffic along the Great Barrier Reef.
The Labor government had rejected a rail line and port proposal for a rival project, now owned by another Australian mining magnate, Clive Palmer.
The authorities cleared the GVK project after imposing 60 conditions to protect the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and the marine area.
"We are the only coal developer in Australia to possess environmental approvals at a state and federal level that integrate the mine, rail and port...that will significantly assist in the facilitation of opening up the Galilee Basin," GVK Vice chairman Sanjay Reddy said in a statement.
The Alpha project in the untapped Galilee Basin in Queensland has a mine life of more than 30 years, and would produce 32 million tonnes a year, with first output targeted for early 2016.
Alpha is one of five major coal projects in the basin, together aiming to produce more than 180 million tonnes by the end of the decade and double Australia's current annual thermal coal exports.
All of those projects are seen potentially at risk of being shelved or delayed due to soaring costs and a weaker outlook for coal demand in the near term.
(Reporting by Maggie Lu Yueyang and Sonali Paul; Editing by Ryan Woo)
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