By Melissa Maddison and Megan Woodward
Updated Wed Oct 10, 2012 8:49pm AEDT
VIDEO: Qld's Alpha Coal project gets green light (7pm TV News QLD)
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VIDEO: Environmental concern over coal port project (7pm TV News QLD)
MAP: Bowen 4805
Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has approved a proposed new coal terminal at the Abbot Point port near Bowen in north Queensland.
Mr Burke says the joint $6.9 billion GVK-Hancock Coal project, which includes a new mine, rail corridor and export terminal, will be subject to 60 strict conditions.
He says the second stage of the Alpha coal mine project has been approved after a rigorous assessment process that will protect the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and the marine area.
Mr Burke says the developers will need to set up a seagrass offset scheme to protect and conserve seagrass, vital to the survival of dolphins, turtles and dugongs.
The project has now received all major state and federal approvals.
Approval has already been given for the rail and mine projects and today Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke approved the expansion of the Abbot Point Terminal near Bowen.
Mr Burke says the project is subject to 60 conditions to protect the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and the developer will also have to set up a seagrass offset scheme.
However, North Queensland Conservation Group spokeswoman Wendy Tubman says the conditions are useless and the approval is premature.
She says the conditions applied to the expansion should have been adhered to prior to the approval being granted.
"One of the conditions is he wants pre-clearance surveys to detect the presence of listed, threatened species of migratory species," she said.
"Now what is the point of the survey if you've already given approval - 'we're giving you approval to damage it but before you do that, please tell us how beautiful it is'."
But a spokesman for GVK Hancock says best environmental protection processes have been applied to the project.
Meanwhile, the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) says the approval is a significant step towards opening up mining in the Galilee Basin.
QRC chief executive Michael Roche says despite recent job cuts and falling commodity prices, he is confident the multi-billion-dollar project will proceed.
"The company has done a lot of work on getting a viable cost structure," he said.
"They can't control what happens to global coal prices, but the company will of course take a long term view in making their final decisions about this project."
In May this year, the State Government scaled back the size of the project.
Earlier this year, GVK received approval for the mine and rail projects.
A spokesman for GVK says 650 jobs will be created during the port expansion, with 200 permanent jobs in the Whitsunday area.
The first coal is expected to be produced in 2016.