Protestors not backing down from Whitehaven Coal

Protestors have entered Whitehaven Coal’s office in Boggabri as part of their ongoing fight to halt the company’s Maules Creek mine project.
Maules Creek resident Anne-Marie Rasmussen said protesters filled the office, demanding answers about the impacts of the project.

The incident followed a gathering of protestors on the haul road of Whitehaven’s Tarrawonga Coal mine, The Newcastle Herald reported.

Protestors say Maules Creek mine will destroy 625 hectares of critically endangered Box Gum Woodland and effect the water table.

Rasmussen said the company had provided misleading information about its biodiversity offsets.

 “We cannot afford to destroy our remaining forests and deplete the planet’s dwindling resources,” Rasmussen said.

“If Whitehaven cannot prove they can fully offset their destruction of the Leard State Forest they should cut their losses and abandon the Maules Creek open-cut pit.”

The Northern Inland Council for the Environment filed a challenge to appeal the proposed mine in July, challenging the validity of former federal environment minister Tony Burke’s decision to approve the project.

The court’s decision on whether the project should proceed is not expected until early November, however preparation work at the site has been allowed to continue after an injunction was dismissed last week.

At the time, Whitehaven’s managing director and CEO, Paul Flynn, said the project was still on target to produce first coal in 2015.

The $766 million Maules Creek mine project was granted with strict environmental conditions in February before being given the final go ahead in early July.

Once at full production, Maules Creek will produce 13 million tonnes annually, of which 10.5 million tonnes will be saleable coal.

However the project has seen a spate of protests as members from the local community band together to try and hamstring the project.

Long term resident and farmer Phil Laird said the mine would impact on the natural environment.

‘‘We don’t want this area to become the next Hunter Valley,’’ Laird said.

‘‘Between them, Maules Creek and Boggabri mines will account for more than 4000hectares of the 7500-hectare Leard State Forest, leaving massive final voids that the scientific experts said should be filled in.

‘‘Environmentally, the mines will devastate various native species including koalas and swift parrots, and as farmers, we are concerned about the damage the mines will do to the surrounding aquifers.’’

Whitehaven have previously stated the project involved “a comprehensive assessment and decision-making process”.

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