NEW DELHI, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Indian conglomerate the Adani Group said its $10 billion Carmichael coal block in Queensland, Australia, would start production in 2016.
"We are going to be the largest Indian group in coal mining," Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani told the Economic Times as the diversified group announced Sunday that it had completed its comprehensive geotechnical field investigation of the block.
At 10 billion tons, Carmichael is considered the largest single coal tenement in the world.
Adani Group acquired the mine in 2010.
Australian Minister for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson said Adani's mining venture would get necessary approvals for commercial production by June.
"We welcome that commitment because we have to take advantage of this window where most other major (resources) projects are on hold, freeing up resources and manpower to expedite this project," Adani told The Australian newspaper.
Adani said the project, which consists of construction of a mine, rail and port infrastructure, is expected to create nearly 5,000 jobs during the construction phase and 4,000 permanent jobs when operations begin.
"India lacks energy resources and Australia needs investments and employment," Ferguson was quoted as saying by the Times.
Coal accounts for about 67 percent of total energy consumption in India but as India's energy demand outpaces supply, power outages and blackouts are becoming more frequent, particularly amid coal shortages.
In July more than half the country had no electricity because of massive blackouts.
Furthermore, India's auditor-general in September estimated that India's "coalgate" scandal, in which dozens of coal licenses were issued to private companies at less than market rates, cost the country $33 billion in lost revenue.
The Indian government has said that the country would need to import 185 million tons of coal annually by 2017 to meet increasing shortfalls. By contrast, 2011 imports reached around 90 million.
Mining at Carmichael is to begin in January 2016 and is expected to reach its peak production of 60 million tons a year by 2022, Adani said. Nearly 60 percent of the coal will go to India.
Adani Group operates the Abbot Point coal terminal in Queensland, which it had acquired last year. It plans to increase the terminal's annual capacity to 120 million tons per year from its current capacity of 50 million tons.
Coal from the Carmichael mine will be transported along the 249-mile railway line the company will build to Abbot Point for exports to its power plants in India.
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