SYDNEY (Reuters) - Environmental activists are due to start a week of protests on Sunday against a major coal mining project they say will damage Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and contribute to global warming.
The A$16.5 billion ($13.20 billion) project has been delayed for more than five years by court challenges from environmentalists and indigenous groups concerned about reef damage, climate change, and the impact on native land and water supply.
The challenges failed and a workers’ camp opened in August to begin building the project’s $3.2 billion first stage.
The “Frontline Action on Coal” and the “Reef Defenders” groups are to start their protests at Bowen, in the Whitsunday region of Queensland where the reef is situated.
Paul Jukes, a Whitsunday farmer and tourism operator, told Reuters by telephone that the demonstrations would start with a march but could extend to direct action such as activists locking themselves to equipment to prevent it from being moved.
“It will be completely peaceful,” he said.
The project is located in the remote Galilee Basin, a 247,000 square-kilometre (95,000 square mile) expanse in the central outback that some believe has the potential to become Australia’s largest coal-producing region.
Adani has said the project would create 10,000 direct and indirect jobs. Coal from the mine would be exported to India.
The mine is located 400 km (250 miles) from a Pacific Ocean shipping terminal. Adani is seeking a A$900 million ($720 million) concessional government loan to help build a rail line linked to a port.
The Australian government is assessing whether to grant Adani the loan through its Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility intended to promote economic development in rural regions.
($1 = 1.2498 Australian dollars)
Reporting by Alison Bevege; Editing by Eric Meijer