The Adani Group on Thursday received final approval from the Queensland state authorities in Australia to begin work on its controversial coal mine project. The Queensland government approved the groundwater plan for Gautam Adani’s Carmichael mine, clearing the company’s last major environmental hurdle, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

In a statement issued on Thursday afternoon, the Department of Environment and Science, which approved Adani’s groundwater management plan, said it had imposed extra conditions on the approval, requiring the firm to install a new bore to help identify the source aquifer for the Doongmabulla Springs. “This is required to identify any potential contribution from other aquifers and strengthen the groundwater dependent environment management plan,” the statement added.

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch announced the decision in the Queensland Parliament on Thursday. “I’m advised by the regulator that following comprehensive feedback, largely as a result of that independent advice, Adani agreed to substantial improvements to its finch management plan,” she said. Enoch added that Adani had submitted the 12th version of the groundwater plan to the environment department on Wednesday.

It is feared that the plan, which has been criticised by seven groundwater scientists, will threaten a group of ancient desert springs that provide underground water to endangered vegetation.

“Today our remarkable journey of conviction, resilience, and commitment in Australia
enters a new phase,” Adani Group Chairperson Gautam Adani said in a statement. “I am thankful to the Queensland government and the Australian federal government for believing in the Adani Group’s vision of strengthening India’s energy security and creating new opportunities for the people of Australia.”

Adani Mining chief executive Lucas Dow said the news confirmed that the firm had met all regulatory demands. “Over the coming days preparatory activities such as finalising contracts, mobilising equipment, recruitment and completing inductions will continue,” he said.

“Throughout the past eight years regional Queenslanders have been beside us every step of the way and we thank them for their on-going support,” he added. “We’re ready to start work on the Carmichael Project and deliver the jobs these regions so badly need.”

Adani has approval to produce 60 million tonnes of thermal coal annually but is only planning to produce about 27.5 million tonnes at present, PTI reported.

On Thursday, a group of students protested in Brisbane against the project. Demonstrations against the mine were held in April too. The Environment Ministry of the Australian government had granted the project approval in April.