Environmental activists from Rising Tide broke onto a 15 metre high conveyor belt at Kooragang Island Coal Terminal in Newcastle.
The protestors scaled the conveyor belt and suspended a sign which read “we’re sorry Somalia. Coal = climate change and starvation”, according to the Newcastle Herald.
They were arrested by police.
The activists reportedly wanted to highlight coal’s contribution to the famine in Somalia.
They claimed scientists had made a link between climate change and the drought affecting people in the Horn of Africa.
Naomi Hogan, a spokesperson for Rising Tide, said coal is the largest contributor to climate change.
“While climate disaster ravages East Africa, coal companies operating here in Australia are planning to massively expand their coal production, ignoring all the negative impacts,’’ Hogan said.
‘‘We are standing in the belly of the beast, here in the world’s largest coal port, calling on the coal industry to reverse their plans to more than double Australia’s coal exports. It’s about time the coal giants took responsibility for their contribution to the dangerous impacts of climate change.
“Tens of thousands of Somalis have already died and hundreds of thousands face starvation.’’
The activists called for coal miners to donate profits to victims of the drought.
“We are calling on the coal companies operating in Australia to take a tiny fraction of their billion dollar profits and donate the 1.4 billion dollars urgently required to save lives across East Africa.”
A Newcastle Infrastructure Group (NIG) spokesperson, which runs the terminal, said coal loading was stopped on site as soon as the protestors were noticed.
“Our main concern is safety not only for protesters but our people and rescuers and that appears to have been achieved.’’
However, according to NIG “the impact on operations overall has been zero”.
Rising Tide activists have previously blocked coal operations at Kooragang Island.
In March, they blocked the harbour by paddling kayaks and canoes into the shipping lanes.
In September last year, activists chained themselves to conveyor belts and scaled coal loaders, actions which were later labelled ‘dangerous and unsafe’ by judges.