Protestor fined $600 for stopping work at Maules Creek mine site

A Sydney woman has been fined $600 for stopping work at the Maules Creek mine site after she chained herself to a gate.

Kate Warren pleaded guilty in Narrabri Local Court on Tuesday to ignoring a move-on direction and obstructing the path of a vehicle near the mine.

Warren had to be cut free from the gate on January 17 after locking herself to it with a D-lock at around 6am.

She told the court she took part in the protest because Whitehaven Coal’s new mine would destroy the Leard Forest and kill animals, ABC reported.

Magistrate Daphne Kok advised Warren to write a letter about animal welfare rather than chain herself to objects.

Kok said mining companies were entitled to be protected by the law.

 Warren was fined $100 dollars for failing to move on and $500 for obstructing the drivers' path.

Meanwhile 18 mining and gas protesters plead not guilty to actions taken as part of activism in the same area of north-west NSW.

The protests relate to direct activism at Whitehaven's Maules Creek mine, Idemitsu's Boggabri Coal, the Whitehaven-Idemitsu joint venture at Tarrawonga, and Santos' CSG project in the Pilliga State Forest.

At a call-over at Narrabri Local Court the 18 people each entered pleas of not guilty to a range of charges including hindering the work of mining equipment and entering enclosed lands without a reasonable excuse.

The court ordered police serve their brief of evidence by April 15 and the matters were listed for mention on April 29.

Protests in the area have ramped up this year with environmental groups promising to do what they can to hamstring the development of a number of coal and CSG projects in the area.

More than 31 people have been arrested since direct activism begun, with protests occurring most days at the project sites.

Santos has previously said costs associated with lost time on work at its site would be passed on to consumers when gas from CSG wells comes online.

The company said it was facing losses of up to $100,000 each day protests forced workers to down tools at the site.

Whitehaven Coal has previously labelled continuing activism at its Maules Creek mine a “nuisance” and vowed to go ahead with the development of the project.

“Our primary concern is that any protest activity is carried out lawfully and does not endanger the safety of mine employees or emergency service personnel,” the company said.

The mining companies say protesters are risking their safety as well as the safety of mine workers at its operations as activism becomes more daring.

Last week two women dressed in bat suit costumes shut down Idemistu’s Boggabri coal mine after using harnesses to suspend themselves upside down on the site’s coal loader.

“Ongoing instances of civil disobedience are both illegal and dangerous, and are a deliberate waste of local police resources,” Idemitsu Australia Resources CEO, Rod Bridges, said.

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