Tree dweller says he’ll stay put until Boggabri coal mine expansion halted

A man has taken to living in a tree to protest against Idemitsu’s plan to expand Boggabri coal mine.

The activist climbed the tree in the Leard Forest on Sunday and says he won’t come down until a stop work order is levelled at the company.

The move comes amid ongoing protests at the site after Idemitsu was given approval to expand the mine and increase its production from 3.5 million tonnes of coal per year to seven million tonnes.

 It will also increase the disturbance area up to 1835 hectares – with nearly 1400 hectares of the forest expected to be cleared.

Spokesperson Phil Spark said the protest action aimed to raise awareness about the company’s offset plans which he argues have not been independently reviewed.

"The platform is situated in the middle of white box woodland known to be important habitat for koalas and 27 other threatened species," Spark said.

“It appears that Idemitsu have exploited a loophole to avoid scrutiny of the quantity and quality of white box woodland in their offsets.”

Spark says the company’s biodiversity offset plan do not include an assessment of the white box woodland areas and instead focus on habitat for woodland birds and bats.

“It is alarming that Idemitsu can raze critically endangered forest for an open cut coal mine, when there is no assurance that the same quality and quantity of that ecological community exists in their offsets,” Spark said.

“As the Federal Minister is responsible for protecting endangered ecosystems, Greg Hunt must require Idemitsu to obtain an independent review of the White Box Woodland in their offsets before this precious forest is destroyed.”

Protests at the Boggabri site are not uncommon, with activist groups promising to do what they can to hamstring the development of a number of coal projects in the area which they claim will destroy the forest.

Last month police were called to the site after activists dressed in bat suits shut down the mine after using harnesses to suspend themselves upside down on the site’s coal loader.

Late last year the coal loader was scaled by the same group, forcing the company to cease operations for over 6 hours.

In October activists stopped trucks entering the mine site, while two men who broke into the mine last year were convicted in July.

Idemitsu Australia Resources CEO, Rod Bridges, has previously said ongoing instances of civil disobedience are a “deliberate waste of local police resources”.

While the Minerals Council of Australia has called for The Greens to stop supporting acts of civil disobedience as as activism becomes increasingly dangerous.

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.