Our story today begins with former Whitehaven managing director Tony Haggarty telling national media that nobody is making money on coal at the moment after the company posted a $47 million quarterly loss. It makes us wonder why the company wants to evict part of a community and destroy a large forest to make way for more coal. Perhaps these selfless coal companies are thinking about the jobs they can add to the community. Although it can’t be that either, with a new report by the Australia Institute that shows that new mines take jobs away rather than creating them. In just the agricultural sector alone, $65 billion has been lost since the start of the mining boom, not to speak of all the other industries impacted by infrastructure strain and inflation caused by the coal rush.
A tough job it is too, being a miner. Front Line Action on Coal has heard reports that eighteen miners at Idemitsu’s Boggabri Coal Mine had to be taken to hospital the Friday before last after a blast at the neighbouring Tarrawonga Mine. Two days earlier, FLAC reported the company to the Environmental Protection Authority when three of us developed strong headaches and nausea after a rotten egg smell wafted over camp following a blast. Apparently Whitehaven told the EPA everything went fine and they had pictures to prove it. We’re sure they do.
Our prospects for healthy aquifers, communities and a safe climate look a little better after a lawsuit in the US forced an American coal company to settle by agreeing to close three coal-fired power stations and replace them with renewable energy by 2015. The Maules Creek community’s legal action to stop the Maules Creek mine is looking good too, with lawyers telling us there are strong prospects for success in what looks to be a landmark court case. Please consider giving to the legal fund if you haven’t already done so.
Gomeroi elders, councillors, residents and local politicians such as Tony Windsor held a forum in Gunnedah last night to discuss the impacts of coal and gas on the region. Willala farmer Alistair Donaldson (who has lent a solar panel to our camp) presented Windsor with a certificate to commemorate the 8,375 local residents already producing energy from solar panels on their roofs, two days after FLAC participated in a nationwide Solar Barbecue to celebrate the use of renewable energy across Australia.
The critters must be feeling a little happier too – we found yet another koala – this time, a brown female koala.
There is still a lot of work for us to do. The Boggabri coal mine continues to expand, and both it and the Maules Creek mine could begin as soon as they lodge a water plan with the federal environment department. We need to make sure they can’t start until the courts sort out the mess. On the 9th and 10th of March we’re expecting dozens of people to come to the Leard Forest Listen Up gig, featuring Golden Orb, Pauman, the Sufferjets, Paul Spencer and the comic stylings of Hannah Gissane, among others. In mid-March we’ll need more people at camp to allow people who have been here long-term to take a short break.
Please keep spreading the word among your networks, keep up the heat on the banks and keep coming along to camp. Don’t miss out on the chance to be part of history.
Breaking news – Whitehaven has lodged an application to mine Vickery Forest, less than half an hour from camp (maybe they need to hedge their bets if Maules Creek falls through). Submissions open on March 5. We’ll keep you posted.