Hyderabad: Infrastructure major GVK on Tuesday said it has got environment clearance from the Queensland government in Australia for its USD10 billion (about Rs 55,000 crore) Alpha Coal and rail project in Galilee Basin.

The clearance is a major achievement for the company and its Alpha Project which is considered to be one of the biggest coal projects in Australia, GVK said.

The company is now the only Galilee Basin proponent with an approved Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), it added.

The project, expected to generate 4,000 jobs at peak, is being run by Hancock Coal in which 79 percent is owned by GVK and 21 percent by Gina Rinehart, the world's richest woman.

Last year, GVK paid USD1.26 billion to buy the coal assets and related logistics infrastructure in Australia from Hancock through group company GVK Coal Developers (Singapore).

GVK Chairman and Managing Director GVK Reddy said the development will pave the way for the group to complete the financing and secure final mining approvals for the Alpha Project in the second half of 2012.

"We remain committed to developing our world class projects in a timely and responsible manner and ultimately bring widespread benefits to this great state," Reddy said.

GVK Vice Chairman Sanjay Reddy said the EIS is yet another milestone towards the goal and the company believes that it can provide the best quality coal to supply power to developing countries.

Sanjay Reddy had earlier said GVK would be investing USD10 billion in the first phase of development of the Hancock project and are mulling to sell some stake in the project to raise funds.

Meanwhile, in a separate statement, the Queensland government said the Coordinator-General has approved environmental clearance to the mine with strict conditions and the move is a major step towards opening up the Galilee Basin's coal deposits.

It added, however, that although the Coordinator-General completed the assessment, the Federal Minister for Environment of Australia is yet to complete his assessment under the Commonwealth environmental legislation.

(Agencies)

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