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A rail line that will link Adani's $21 billion Carmichael coal mine to the Abbot Point port is one step closer, after passing its first assessment hurdle for a Federal Government loan.
The Government's Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) has been asked to consider lending money for the line, running for 310 kilometres from the northern Galilee basin in Queensland to the port.
The ABC understands the board has now completed its preliminary assessment and referred the project for more detailed scrutiny.
Planning Australia's biggest mine
NAIF has a mandate to offer a concessional loan of up to 50 per cent of the $2 billion project cost for the rail line.
The Labor State Government has ruled out funding the project, which will be Australia's largest coal mine, so company will need substantial private investment.
The rail corridor is vital for the Adani mine to go ahead.
The chairman of the Indian mining company is due in Queensland on Tuesday to make an announcement about the project.
The Queensland and Federal governments gave environmental approvals this year for the project, which has been marred by protracted legal challenges by environmental groups and traditional owners.
Government 'prioritising Indian corporation over reef'Green groups slammed the NAIF development, saying it was at odds with Australia's commitment to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.
"The world's governments have signed the Paris Agreement, which is incompatible with opening up the largest coal mine in Australia's history," the Australian Youth Climate Coalition's Millie Anthony said.
"It's a clear signal the Australian Government is putting the interests of a billionaire Indian mining corporation over the interests of the Australian public, young Australians and the Great Barrier Reef."
Darren Kindleysides from the Australian Marine Conservation Society said the Australian Government should expect a please explain from the World Heritage Committee.
"Just a day after the Australian Government presented a report to the World Heritage Committee saying they were improving reef protection we see this funding proposal come forward that would accelerate destruction of the Great Barrier Reef."
It will be one of the biggest mines in the world, consisting of six open-cut pits and up to five underground mines, and will supply Indian power plants with enough coal to generate electricity for up to 100 million people.
The controversial project involves dredging 1.1 million cubic metres of spoil near the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which will then be disposed of on land.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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