The clearing of the leases is considered a significant step ahead for the project, work for which is projected to begin next year at a cost of $21.7 billion. Carmichael’s formal environmental assessments first began in 2010.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told ABC News Australia that the planned mine and rail complex had been under “extensive government and community scrutiny,” but also noted the thousands of jobs the project will create.

“Some approvals are still required before construction can start and ultimately committing to the project will be a decision from Adani,” she said, adding that tight controls will continue to be in place for the protection of landowners, the environment and the Great Barrier Reef.

“We have placed nearly 200 strict environmental conditions on these three mining leases —I have now decided that the benefits outweigh those challenges,” Palaszczuk added.

Adani said the granting of the leases helps “deliver the company certainty with respect to timelines” as it moves in the next stages of the project.

“Adani has consistently said that what is required for its projects to proceed is certainty on approvals,” officials told ABC. “The next phase of the project following this key approval will see a return to the pre-engineering work that had to be suspended in 2015 with the loss of certainty on approvals timelines that had occurred at that time. Concurrent with that, the company will continue to finalize second-tier approvals, with the clear aim of commencing construction in calendar year 2017.”