Just when you thought coal was going completely out of style, Australia has given approval for one of the world’s largest coal mines. According to the BBC, a court temporarily blocked the project back in August due to environmental concerns, but the Australian government has given Adani Mining of India the go-ahead for their Queensland mine. Australian environment minister Greg Hunt says the approval includes “36 of the strictest conditions in Australian history,” but critics aren’t buying it and say it’s “grossly irresponsible.”

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The $16 billion project is expected to produce about 60 million tonnes of coal per year, most of which will be shipped to India – and will take up an area that’s about seven times the size of Sydney Harbor, or roughly 140 square miles.

Related: Dangerous coal use surges despite global warming

Critics of the project say it will threaten two vulnerable animal species, and the conditions imposed on the project reflect that. They include protection and improvement for 31,000 hectares of special wildlife habitat, along with $1 million (AUD) in funding for research into improving conservation of threatened species over the next 10 years.

But the Australian Conservation Foundation says the amount of pollution that will come from the project makes it a bad idea in any sense. “To approve a massive coal mine that would make a species extinct, deplete 297 million liters of precious groundwater and produce 128.4 million tonnes of (carbon dioxide) a year is grossly irresponsible,” ACF president Geoff Cousins told BBC.

“At a time when the world is desperately seeking cleaner energy options this huge new coal mine will make the effort to combat climate change all the more difficult.”


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