WORK has begun on Adani's controversial open cut mine this week, with excavator and mine trucks removing layers of overburden above the coal seams.

Adani Mining chief executive David Boshoff said work to remove the rock - known as the box-cut, was a major milestone on the construction schedule of the Carmichael mine.

"We are on track to export first coal in 2021," Mr Boshoff said.

"It's great to see our big new gear, the Liebherr R 996B excavator and CAT 796 dump trucks, hard at work.

"In time they will reach the coal seam then we will be excavating coal as we need to remove around four cubic meters of rock for every tonne of coal we mine."

There will be more heavy machinery operating across the site as it moves into the next phase of construction.

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The Indian mining giant said more than 700 people were now employed on the mine and rail project construction.

This figure is expected to ramp up as more contractors arrive to build the coal handling plant and work on the railway.

PROGRESS: Commencement of box cut at Adani's Carmichael mine. Picture: Cameron Laird
PROGRESS: Commencement of box cut at Adani's Carmichael mine. Picture: Cameron Laird

Mr Boshoff said the project was on track to deliver 1500 direct and 6750 indirect jobs.

"We're committed to using conventional truck and excavator mining techniques across the project," he said.

"Our first five mining trucks and excavator have arrived on site and are operational and the assembly of our second excavator will commence in the coming weeks.

"We will also add more than a dozen mining trucks to our fleet over the coming months. The trucks will be assembled in Mackay, with each taking a team of about 40 men and women up to 10 weeks to put together before they are transported more than 300km to site."

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Once operational, the Carmichael mine will produce 10 million tonnes of high-quality thermal coal per annum.

This will be used to generate affordable and reliable electricity for communities in India and South-East Asia.