Environment Minister Greg Hunt has hit back at green groups critical of the government’s decision to approve a massive coal mine in Queensland.

The federal government has accused green groups of double standards by criticising its decision to approve a huge new coal mine in Queensland.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt has placed 36 conditions on Indian mining giant Adani for it to proceed with the $16.5 billion coal and rail project in the Galilee Basin.

Environmental advocates are concerned the project could threaten groundwater in the Great Artesian Basin and have negative consequences for the Great Barrier Reef.

But Mr Hunt says those claims are false, pointing out the mine would be in a remote region almost 500 kilometres from the coast.

And he’s questioned why green groups did not raise the same level of concern when the previous state Labor government approved the Alpha mine for another Indian mining company.

“(They) said virtually nothing,” Mr Hunt told ABC radio on Tuesday. “The sole extent of the response were the words ‘unfortunate’.”

The requirement that Adani return 730 megalitres of water to the Artesian Basin every year for five years demonstrated the coalition was serious about sustainability.

“I wanted to make sure there was a benefit to the regional environment and a benefit to the regional community,” Mr Hunt said.

Final modelling will be done to determine groundwater management but the government would ensure there was “minimal, if any, impact” by the operation’s water uptake, he said.