Adani Group Chairman Gautam Adani on Tuesday gave his final investment approval for the Indian conglomerate's controversy-hit 21.7 billion dollars coal mine project in Australia which had hit several roadblocks over environmental concerns.
"I am proud to announce the project has Final Investment Decision (FID) approval which marks the official start of one of the largest single Infrastructure -- and job creating -- developments in Australia's recent history," Adani said.
This is a historic day for Adani, a historic day for regional Queensland, and a historic day for Indian investment in Australia, he said.
The announcement comes just days after the Adani group agreed to pay royalties on coal produced from its project after it struck an agreement with the Queensland government to help the controversy-hit project move forward.
"This is the largest single investment by an Indian corporation in Australia, and I believe others will follow with investments and trade deals," the Adani group chairman said.
"We have been challenged by activists in the courts, in inner city streets, and even outside banks that have not even been approached to finance the project. We are still facing activists. But we are committed to this project," Adani said, adding that the group is committed to Queensland and to addressing energy poverty in India.
Adani said the Carmichael projects will generate 10,000 direct and indirect jobs, with pre-construction works starting in the September Quarter 2017.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk officially opened Adani's Regional Headquarters (RHQ) in Townsville from where the company will oversee the construction and operations of the project.
The regional headquarters will also accommodate Adani's Remote Operations Centre, the first time that such a centre has been set up in an Australian regional city.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was represented at the ceremony by the Federal Minister for Northern Australia and Resources, Senator Matt Canavan.
Adani Australia Head of Country and Chief Executive Jeyakumar Janakaraj said the company has already invested 3.3 billion dollars in the project, including buying the bulk coal handling port of Abbot Point.
Adani also signed letters of award for design, construction, operations, supply of materials and professional services.
Meanwhile, a group of religious leaders camped out on Tuesday at the Sydney-based Commonwealth Bank's headquarters to protest against the proposed Adani mega coal mine project.
Local media reported that ten Buddhist and Christian leaders rallied outside the DarlingHarbour office, holding signs with messages including 'People of faith say rule out Adani' and 'Grandpa what did you do about global warming?'
Uniting Church Minister Rex Graham said the group was opposed to the expansion of coal mines in Australia.
"The other banks have heard the message, particularly National Australian Bank and Westpac, and that's what we're looking for the Commonwealth Bank to also do so," he was quoted as saying.
The Carmichael coal project, Australia's largest, has been delayed since first being proposed in 2010 due to protests by green groups over its environmental impact.
The Indian energy giant has for more than five years battled the opposition to any expansion of the Abbot Point port, saying it will cut into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
The project involves dredging 1.1 million cubic metres of soil near the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which will then be disposed of on land.
The Adani group entered Australia in 2010 with the purchase of the greenfield Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin in central Queensland, and the Abbot Point port near Bowen in the north.
The Carmichael project has been facing opposition from environmentalists and indigenous groups. The Indian energy giant has for more than five years battled the opposition to any expansion of the Abbot Point port, saying it will cut into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
Image: Adani Group Chairman Gautam Adani. Photograph: Amit Dave/Reuters.