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Adani, Carmichael achieve Federal Court of Australia win over traditional owners

The Federal Court of Australia has rejected a native title group's attempt to ban Adani Enterprises Ltd. from registering an indigenous land use agreement for its A$16.5 billion Carmichael coal development in Queensland's Galilee Basin, according to a social media post by Adani Australia.

On Feb. 15, the court rejected the Wangan and Jagalingou group's appeal of its decision to block the native title group's application to extend an interim injunction, permitted last December.

Adani first proposed its Carmichael development, which includes an open cut and underground mine set to yield 60 million tonnes per annum of coal and a 189-kilometer railway line, in 2010.

The Indian company welcomed the latest decision, saying it represented an important milestone in Carmichael's development, and would pave the way for interests in land to be granted, pursuant to the indigenous land use agreement's terms.

In a statement posted on Facebook, the company said it recognized the Wangan and Jagalingou people as the traditional owners of the land and had "listened closely" to them over "many years" to agree to the indigenous land use agreement's terms.

Adani said it had also worked to ensure the project would deliver jobs, training and business opportunities for traditional owners.

The project has committed to an indigenous employment target of 7.5%, A$250 million for indigenous business development and contracting, and a A$7.5 million indigenous training package that includes a target of 10% indigenous trainees.

Carmichael will involve six open-cut pits and five underground mines, five mine infrastructure areas, a heavy industrial area, water supply infrastructure and a coal handling and processing plant, to say nothing of the off-site infrastructure including a workers' accommodation village and an airport.

"Adani respects the strength and leadership of the Wangan and Jagalingou people and their long-term vision to create economic opportunities for their people," Adani said in the statement. "The timely delivery of the Carmichael project is a critical part of that vision."

The move came just a day after Greenpeace Australia Pacific applauded Adani Australia in joining its Facebook forum to answer people's questions about what the activist group calls the "Carmichael megamine."

Activist groups threatened legal action after Greg Hunt, then commonwealth minister for the environment, re-issued an approval of the Carmichael coal mine and rail infrastructure project on Oct. 15, 2016, subject to what he called "36 of the strictest conditions in Australian history," amid ongoing protests over the development.

Earlier this month Townsville Enterprise, a group linked to the local city council, said the project had already injected economic benefits into the local region, with more than 200 people employed in the regional headquarters based at Townsville.

"Tenders and contracts have also been awarded to local businesses, supplies are coming through the Port of Townsville and our city will be one of two FIFO [fly-in, fly-out] hubs for the project," Townsville Enterprise said in a Feb. 8 statement. "Whilst this is not the only project currently in our region's pipeline, it is a significant one, and elected representatives should not be swayed by inner city southern Greens who have an anti-jobs agenda, putting regional Queensland jobs at risk."

Adani said the mine would also generate about A$22 billion in taxes and royalties.