Indian company Adani has given final investment approval for the construction of a controversial coal mine in Australia.
The decision marks the “official start” of the massive A$16.5bn (£9.5bn; $12.3bn) Carmichael mine in Queensland, said chairman Gautam Adani.
Pre-construction work is expected to begin later this year, he said.
The government says the mine will generate investment, but critics say it will harm the environment.
“We have been challenged by activists in the courts, in inner-city streets, and even outside banks,” Mr Adani said in a statement
“We are still facing activists. But we are committed to this project.”
The Carmichael mine, in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, includes a plan for six open-cut and up to three underground mines across an area of 250sq km (95 sq miles).
The company described the announcement on Tuesday as a “green light”. It followed a mining royalties deal struck between Adani and the Queensland state government last week.
“There will be jobs right across the state. This project will deliver those jobs,” said Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan said it was a welcome decision after years of delay due to court actions and government approvals.
“This is going to be the biggest investment in Australia by an Indian company ever,” he said.
Critics including environmentalists have warned that the vast quantities of coal expected to be extracted from the mine will exacerbate global warming and threaten the already ailing Great Barrier Reef.
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