POLITICAL newcomer and resources billionaire Clive Palmer's $6.4 billion Galilee Coal mine has won approval from the Federal Government, despite its proximity to a protected nature reserve.
The project is expected to create 6000 jobs and include two open cut and two underground mines.
It will be developed near the rural outpost of Alpha, west of Mackay and Rockhampton in the Galilee Basin.
In his approval, Environment Minister Greg Hunt imposed 49 conditions on the project, including a demand for 10,000 hectares of land to make up for the damage the mine could do to protected animals and "ecological communities" nearby.
Waratah is to supply 16,000 hectares of property which could act as a nature refuge, double the size of the Bimblebox Nature Reserve which sits within the mine's boundaries and is likely to be swallowed up.
A race to develop coal mines in the Galilee Basin has been gathering pace, with GVK Hancock - a partnership between Indian resources giant GVK and Gina Rinehart - already winning federal approval for its Alpha and Kevin's Corner projects.
With Mr Palmer's Waratah Coal now scoring its own federal green light, GVK's Indian rival Adani will likely be rushing to keep up.
The Galilee mines are to connect to the Port of Abbot Point via 500km rail line. The port will have to undergo a large-scale expansion to match the needs of these new mega mines.
Australian Greens Senator Larissa Waters said the approval from Mr Hunt showed the government was ignoring the risks to the climate and to the Great Barrier Reef.
Ms Waters also attacked the government's idea of forcing Mr Palmer to replace a nature reserve with land elsewhere.
"The condition attached to offset Bimblebox with another area is ridiculous - you can't offset the loss of the last remaining significant woodland in the Galilee Basin," she said.Mr Palmer was approached for comment late yesterday but did not respond before deadline.
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