he chief executive of Indian mining giant Adani has stuck by his commitment to give locals first crack at the 10,000 jobs that will be created by the company’s mine, rail and port projects.
Sandeep Mehta fielded questions at a heated community meeting in Bowen last night.
The mainly pro-development crowd from Bowen often drowned out Whitsunday tourism operators and Mackay-based green groups, who are concerned about the dumping of dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
The Whitsunday Regional Residents Association’s John Barnes says locals welcomed Adani’s pledge to begin construction next year.
“I think the important thing for Bowen is that they’ve had so many false starts with the state development area and in particular the critical mass which is the coal port, so people were very keen to see if Adani was there for the long-term to build the railway and make the mine work and hear the latest on when the dredging and expansion of the port could happen,” he said.
Mr Barnes says Bowen needs the economic benefit of the expansion and misguided concerns about dredging will cost locals jobs.
“The Great Barrier Reef has got to be held pristine but how you can use a miniscule dredging program of moving sand from one part of the seabed to another 10 kilometres away and more than 40 kilometres from the reef, to say that’s going to destroy the reef is basically deceitful,” he said.