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Adani's plan $10-bn coalmine, railroad project in Australia
Rekha Bhattacharjee
Sydney (IANS) Feb 14, 2012

India's Adani Group has hit the Australian headlines with their $10-billion mega plan to build Queensland state's largest coalmine, a 500-km railroad, a new township and even a Greenfield airport.

According to sources, chairman Gautam Adani was in Queensland, in the north-east of this country, last weekend to finalise various acquisitions and infrastructure projects that are associated with the planned coalmine and railroad.

Towards this end, the group had already acquired what is called the Carmichael Coal Project with 7.8 billion tonnes reserves. The Galilee Basin in central queensland, where the project is located, has a mine life of 100 years, the group said.

As per estimates, the cost of constructing the coalmine would be about $6.5 billion and when production touches optimal level, it will produce some 60 million tonnes of coal per year -- mainly for exports to India.

"The initial output of 2 million tonnes per annum in 2014 will increase to deliver a maximum of 60 million tonnes from 2022," the group Web site says, adding: "The exported coal from the project will predominantly service the Indian domestic power market."

The Indian group is also said to be in talks with the Australian authorities to allow unskilled and skilled workers from overseas since there is an acute shortage of mining workforce in the booming Queensland state.

In Alpha, the town nearest to the project, the population is all of 50 people, and the state's Mining Minister Stirling Hinchliffe estimates the requirement at 5,000 people at the beginning of the development of the mine.

"I have given a very clear message to the companies involved, including Adani directly, that we have a very high expectation about the role those Queenslanders will play in these projects," Hinchliffe told ABC Radio Tuesday.

The Adani group had said that due to the remote location of the mine and excessive road distance for regular commuting, it would like to establish a local township and also construct an on-site airstrip to ferry its work force.

"This is the largest ever investment by any Indian company in Australia. The Carmichael Coal Project is also the single largest tenement in Australia in terms of coal resources," says the Adani Group.

Many have welcomed the project but a debate has also started over overseas workers.

"These mines are like a cancer eating up all the productive cattle country, but they pay good money for them," a well-respected Mackay grazier Peter Hughes told reporters recently.

"I'm a great believer in bringing in as many Filipinos and Indians to do the entire start-up infrastructure. There is nobody else out here to do the work," the veteran farmer said.

Adani Group is an Indian entity with a global footprint with interests in power, energy, infrastructure, trading, logistics, ports, special economic zones, mining, oil and gas, agri-business, fast moving consumer goods and realty.

It was founded in 1988 with a capital of Rs.500,000 and today has a collective turnover of Rs.260 billion ($5.2 billion).

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India to build new railway track to link with Bangladesh
Agartala (IANS) Feb 14, 2012 -Agartala (IANS) Feb 14, 2012 - The Indian government will soon start work on a new rail link to Bangladesh that would ease surface transport in the mountainous northeastern states, a railway official said here Tuesday.

India will build a 15-km railway track linking Tripura capital Agartala with Bangladesh's southeastern city of Akhaurah, which is also an important railway junction connected to Chittagong port, resource-rich Sylhet and Dhaka.

An agreement to this effect was signed between between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina during her visit to India in January 2010.

"Total cost of the proposed project is estimated at Rs.252 crore. The Indian Railway Construction Company (IRCON) would lay the new railway tracks on both sides of the border," Northeast Frontier Railways (NFR) chief administrative officer (Construction) Arvind Sewary told reporters.

After holding a meeting with Tripura ministers and officials, Sewary said: "In the forthcoming railway budget, the allocation of funds is expected to be sanctioned and immediately after that, the work for laying track would start."

The railway budget will be presented in parliament on March 14.

A high-level NFR team led by Sewary is now on a tour of Tripura to study the proposed Agartala-Akhaurah link and other ongoing railway projects, being commissioned by the railway authority.

The project is expected to be completed by 2014. Of the 15 km rail line, five km of track falls in the Indian territory and the remaining in Bangladesh.

The official said: "With the establishment of the new railway link, northeast India would be connected to the Chittagong international sea port by rail."

Agartala is the newest station of the Indian Railways, and came up on the country's rail map in October 2008.

Surface connectivity is an important factor as the landlocked northeastern states are surrounded by Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan and China and the only land route to these states from within India is through Assam and West Bengal. But this route passes through over 70 percent hilly terrain with steep roads and multiple hairpin bends.

For ferrying goods and heavy machinery to the northeast from abroad and other parts of the country, India has for long been seeking land, sea and rail access through Bangladesh.

Agartala, for instance, is 1,650 km from Kolkata and 2,637 km from New Delhi via Guwahati and West Bengal, whereas the distance between the Tripura capital and Kolkata through Bangladesh is just about 350 km.

The NFR is now laying tracks to connect Tripura's southern most border town Sabroom, 135 south of here. From Sabroom, the Chittagong international sea port is just 72 km.


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China introduces new maglev train
Beijing (UPI) Jan 23, 2012
A Chinese manufacturer has introduced a low-cost magnetically levitated (maglev) train it says is more environmentally friendly than conventional ones. Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Co. Ltd. says its three-carriage train is designed to run at a maximum speed of 60 mph and carry 600 passengers. "It's ideal for mass transportation, as it is quiet and environmental-friendly. Its manuf ... read more

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