Indian billionaire Gautam Adani
Indian billionaire Gautam Adani.Reuters

In a major setback to Indian tycoon Gautam Adani, a federal court in Australia overturned the approval for a Aus $16 billion coal mine project that was backed by his company. 

The Carmichael mine, which was touted to be Australia's biggest coal mine project, was backed by the Adani group in Australia's Queensland region. 

However, environmentalists had decried the project, claiming that it would put the Great Barrier Reef under threat. 

"With the consent of the parties, the Federal Court has formally set aside the approval of the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project," the Environment Department said in a statement on Wednesday, according to AFP. 

The court also ruled that the Australian environment minister Greg Hunt ignored conservation advice from his own department, which stated that the Adani project threatened species such as the yakka skink and the ornamental snake, The Guardian said. 

Gautam Adani's spokesman has reportedly said that it was "regrettable that a technical legal error from the Federal Environment Department has exposed the approval to an adverse decision". 

The group's plan was to ship coal from the mine to India where it would be used to generate electricity for as many as 100 million people. 

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