Indian mining giant Adani has vowed to use local workers in its $21.7 billion coal mine in the Galilee Basin after announcing workforce arrangements with the Queensland government.
Adani global head Gautum Adanai has promised not to use workers on 457 visas at the Carmichael mine and will prioritise locals.
“I have got an iron-clad guarantee from Mr Adani that there will be no 457 visas as part of the workforce for this major project,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Tuesday.
Adani says the long-awaited mine is expected to generate some 10,000 direct and indirect jobs over its lifespan of 50-60 years, with construction on Australia’s biggest coal mine to begin in July next year.
However, green groups have slammed the project, with Queensland Greens Senator Larissa Waters claiming the premier was being short-sighted by pushing forward with a project that would generate “only” 10,000 jobs.
“It boggles the mind that Ms Palaszczuk is willing to sacrifice the 70,000 jobs that rely on the reef remaining healthy with the promise of a few jobs which might or might not eventuate,” Senator Waters said in Brisbane.
“This shouldn’t even be the question we’re asking, should we have a coal mine or should we have a reef? Of course we should have the reef.”
Adani CEO Jeyakumar Janakaraj, who was in Townsville with the premier on Tuesday, said the company preferred to consider “facts rather than emotions”.
“People have to clearly understand this project is a net positive impact on climate change in the world,” he said.
India would remain a large consumer of coal and would source it from elsewhere if Australia did not supply the “high-quality, highly-sustainable” mining, he added.
Mr Janakaraj said Townsville would become Adani mining’s regional headquarters, while the Mackay-Bowen area would become the regional headquarters for its rail and port operations.
The Indian mining giant will also utilise the “world class” mining services and build industries in Mackay, but is yet to make a final decision on where the mine’s fly-in, fly-out base will be.
The company will decide next year whether to establish the base in Townsville or Rockhampton.
A federal Government loan of a billion dollars is on the table as a sweetener for the project, however it will only be given if Adani is unable to secure private funding.
Fifteen banks have walked away from the project over the past year.
The mine has faced several hurdles in getting approval since Adani began the process in 2010, mostly from litigation brought by various green activist groups, some of which are still pending.
Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane criticised the “green lawfare” saying it was taking away jobs and revenue from the people of Queensland.
“While those very activists enjoy the everyday luxuries such as electricity that we take for granted, they are preventing those living in India from enjoying the same standard of living,” Mr Macfarlane said.
The mine’s main construction work is expected to be underway by the last quarter of 2017.