Protesters claim they have forced Whitehaven Coal to ‘shut down’ production

Production at Whitehaven Coal’s four coal mines across NSW has been affected this morning as over 150 protesters descend on the sites.

Maules Creek, Werrris Creek, Tarrawonga and Rocglen coal mines in the north-west NSW have all been affected by activists who have locked themselves to access gates and various pieces of machinery.

Production at the company’s coal processing plant has also been halted.

Four people have locked themselves to access points at Maules Creek mine while a person is chained to a tripod structure at Tarrawonga and three more people are chained across the road.

Two people are chained to a gate at Rocglen mine, while at Werris Creek two people have scaled the coal loader and are hanging with ropes and harnesses next to a large banner which reads: Coal: Done and Dusted.

Font Line Action on Coal spokesperson Helen War said over 150 people are taking part in today's action.

The group are calling on the state government to halt work at Maules Creek mine.

“There are too many question marks plaguing this development. Dubious federal approvals, corrupt political dealings and blatantly bodged offsets make the Maules Creek project the most spectacular failure of democratic process,” War said.

“We need real action on climate change. This is what direct action looks like.”

Whitehaven deny claims activists have forced the company to halt operations.

“There have been a number of protests this morning but the suggestion that they have ‘shut down’ all our operational and development sites is false and consistent with grandiose claims made about the impact of protests generally,” a spokesman said.

Over 230 people have been arrested since protests begun in the Leard State Forest, and at surrounding mines in the Boggabri area, in January.

Activists claim the construction of Maules Creek, and the expansion of other coal mines, will destroy the forest and impact on water and air quality in the area.

Earlier this year the Minerals Council of Australia called on activists to stop engaging in dangerous protest activities.

The council said people are in danger of serious injury as protesters continue to chain themselves to machinery and scale large mining infrastructure.

Last month activists celebrated the second anniversary of the Leard Blockade camp.

A group of 30 protestors gathered for a 'civil disco-bedience' dance party, featuring a human disco ball, to celebrate the ongoing blockade of Whitehaven Coal's operations.

Leard Forest Alliance spokesperson Phil Evans stated that the protest camp will continue, stating: "We are not going anywhere; the Leard Forest Alliance is in this for the long haul and we won't rest until Whitehaven are stopped."

Maules Creek is due to mine its first coal next March.

Images: frontlineaction.org

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