It's the fight that has become a proxy war between forces for and against the coal industry in Australia and it's entering its fiercest round.
Indian conglomerate Adani's plans to build Australia's biggest coal mine have been heralded by the federal and Queensland governments as a boon for local jobs and the economy.
But environmentalists are adamant the mine is a ticking time bomb that may imperil the Galilee Basin and Great Barrier Reef, as well as serving as an up-yours to the Paris climate change accord.
The battle will escalate this week when its opponents launch a campaign targeting 13 marginal federal Coalition seats and at least three Queensland state seats.
This comes as new details emerge about Adani's chequered history in India, where the conglomerate and its subsidiaries have come under fire from environmental courts.
The $22 billion mega mine Adani plans to build in Carmichael, Queensland will have six open-cut pits and several underground mines.
Coal will be extracted from the mine site west of Rockhampton and transported 400 kilometres by rail to the Abbot Point Terminal, south of Townsville.
It will be processed offshore, before being shipped to energy-hungry India. The federal government is considering granting Adani a $1 billion concessional loan to help build the railway line to the Abbot Point Terminal but the mine's opponents consider the loan a key battleground in the war against the coal project.
Killing the mine
The anti-mine campaign is no empty threat. It has a $1 million war chest, nine full-time staff including polling and social media experts, hundreds of volunteers and is being run by left-leaning activist group GetUp.
While the anti-Adani movement wants to ensure the firm isn't granted the $1 billion loan, its end game is to kill off the project.
"We will win," says businessman turned environmental crusader Geoff Cousins.
This week, the Australian Conservation Foundation, a host of NGOs and GetUp will launch a campaign targeting 13 marginal coalition seats in Queensland, NSW and Victoria.
The campaign will employ cutting-edge and traditional tactics. Voters will be contacted by telephone, advertising and a social media blitz. GetUp's campaigning is said to have contributed to the loss of several coalition seats during the 2016 election and the group is hoping to force Resources Minister Matt Canavan to ditch the proposed $1 billion concessional loan.
"We're aiming to make 50,000 calls into these seats over the next three months, and have conversations with at least the number of people that is equal to that MP's margin in votes. For example it would take just 532 votes to change the outcome of the seat of Forde in Queensland," says GetUp's Miriam Lyons.
The mine opponents will also lobby Westpac bank to join a host of other financial institutions in ruling out funding the $22 billion project, while continuing to use the courts to frustrate the government and Adani's ambitions.
Adani believes it has become a proxy for the nation's coal industry in a campaign that has seen calls from one environmental group to get activists to infiltrate the firm by posing as job seekers.
"This is the most regulated project in the history of Australia and we are yet to push a shovel in the ground and get one ounce of coal. If they kill us, they will move on to other companies," an Adani insider says.
The political pay-off
In cities such as Townsville, heaving with Australian soldiers, and the sweltering, sprawling country town of Rockhampton, the mine is mostly seen as a godsend.
"I have come under fire from those opposed to coal for my vocal support of this project, but I won't take a backward step," Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow recently said.
The Queensland Labor government faces an election in 2018 and, short on major infrastructure projects, hopes the mine and resulting jobs will see it returned to office.
Adani and the Queensland government say the project will deliver an employment bonanza, creating thousands of jobs during the construction phase. This will level off to 1500 or so employees when the mine is fully operational.
Pauline Hanson has backed the mine, subject to assurances around water management and the use of foreign labour, while local LNP member George Christensen supports both the mine and the subsidy.
The Minerals Council of Australia's CEO Brendan Pearson says the anti-mine campaign amounts to "futile grandstanding" that will only delay job and business opportunities for thousands of Australians.
"It is patently clear that the Adani mine will proceed and that is a good thing for regional communities in Central and Northern Queensland," he said.
Federal LNP members are also barracking for the mine.
One senior federal minister told Fairfax Media that regardless of opposition by "zealots", the Carmichael coal project is likely to receive the $1 billion concessional loan from the government.
But the minister also privately acknowledges that subsidising a firm controlled by a controversial Indian billionaire is not without its problems.
A grubby past
The Adani Group is a diversified conglomerate headed by billionaire Gautam Adani, one of India's wealthiest magnates and a man who has cultivated powerful friends, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Mr Adani recently met Malcolm Turnbull, whose renewed support for coal (Treasurer Scott Morrison brandished a lump of coal in federal parliament last week) is at the heart of the Coalition's claim that Labor's renewable energy policy will lead to a surge in power prices and imperil energy security.
The power and reach of the Adani Group is legendary in India. But the group's subsidiaries have also faced allegations of involvement in fraud and corruption, environmental destruction and labour exploitation.
A recent ABC investigation into the conglomerate focused on ongoing investigations by Indian authorities, widely reported by the local media, into alleged money laundering and tax fraud by Adani subsidiaries.
The federal resources minister described the ABC report as 'fake news' and said the allegations were untested.
But official Indian tribunals and watchdogs have landed punches on a number of Adani firms, including:
► an August 2016 finding previously unreported in Australia by the Indian National Green Tribunal- an environmental court- which found Adani partly responsible for failing to clean up after an oil and coal spill caused by an unseaworthy ship that ran aground off the coast of Mumbai in 2011. The ship had been chartered by Adani and was carrying the firm's coal and fuel; and
► in January 2016, the same tribunal fined an Adani subsidiary $4.8 million after finding it had caused environmental destruction while undertaking works at a fishing village in the Indian port city of Surat.
A report released by lawyers from Environmental Justice Australia documents these and other alleged Adani misdeeds in India, including an illegal iron ore mining and export operation and an environmental disaster at the Mundra port.
Mr Canavan believes Adani has "been exposed to unfair scrutiny" and criticisms of the firm carry "xenophobic undertones."
"There have been some high-profile incidents by Australian mining and resources companies recently, some instances that are quite dire. But it seems to be, because they [Adani] are Indian or because they want to develop a new coal basin, they are exposed to a different standard."
Mr Canavan insists Australia has the regulatory checks and balances to keep Adani in line. For example, there are dozens of criteria for Adani to meet in order to meet and maintain its government approval.
And for all the doomsday warnings about Adani coal ships navigating the Great Barrier Reef, a company insider says such predictions overlook the fact that other vessels carrying the quarry of other big miners have for years been making a similar journey to little, if any, protest.
Queensland has exported more than 200 million tonnes of coal per year in recent times (more than triple the volume Adani plans to export) and the majority of that goes through the reef.
But a businessman who knows how corporate Australia operates, former Optus CEO, Geoff Cousins, is dismissive of the protections proffered by the federal government and Adani. Mr Cousins, a former adviser to prime minister John Howard and current Australian Conservation Foundation chairman, notes that "major projects get a wide variety of conditions attached to them and state and federal governments hide behind those conditions. But when you go to see if anyone checked on those conditions or whether they were met, the record is generally appalling."
Where will the coal go
The coal Adani wants to mine is bound for India's power plants, including those the company owns. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is championing renewable energy in line with the aims of last year's Paris Agreement (looking increasingly shaky in the wake of Donald Tump's election. At the same time, India is also seeking to ramp up its own coal production in line with its ambitious aim to become self sufficient in its production of coal.
The mine's proponents say if India's power stations are denied Australian coal, they will be forced to use a dirtier local alternative, with greater emissions. This claim addresses the argument that the burning of Carmichael coal will undermine efforts to combat climate change. As with most claims connected to the mine, this is fiercely contested, including by the progressive Australia Institute, who argue the Galilee Basin's coal is dirtier than that in other Australian mines. They also contest the mine's trumpeted job figures.
Ultimately, the fight about Adani's Carmichael project is about the wisdom of building a massive new coal mine as the world moves towards less polluting sources of energy. The issue of climate change is the ultimate political fault line on which environmentalists believe the fight against Adani must be waged.
Mr Canavan says it's all about jobs and economic opportunity. And while the competing battlegrounds aren't mutually exclusive, there will only be one victor.