The coal mines
Open-cut coal mining threatens to destroy more than half of the Leard State Forest. Two open-cut coal mines are already operating and have approval to expand further into Leard State Forest. A third open-cut coal mine is approved and expected to begin production in 2015.
Together these mines will clear approximately 5000 hectares – that’s more than half – of Leard State Forest, and produce 20 million tonnes of coal that will be railed to the Port of Newcastle for export.
Boggabri Coal(operated by Idemitsu):
Boggabri Coal is an open-cut coal mine located in Leard State Forest about 17 kilometres north east of Boggabri. It is wholly owned and operated by Idemitsu. The mine produces thermal, PCI, and semi-soft coking coal. It is approved to expand operations further into Leard State Forest to extract 7 million tonnes per year and operate for another 21 years.
Tarrawonga(operated by Whitehaven):
Production started at Tarrawonga in 2006. The mine is located on the outskirts of Leard State Forest, and 15 kilometres east of Boggabri. The mining project is a joint venture between Whitehaven Coal (70%) and Idemitsu (30%). The joint venture is managed by its majority partner, Whitehaven Coal. This open-cut coal mine produces both semi-soft coking coal and export thermal coal*. The mine resources can support operations for about 20 years, producing 3 million tonnes per year. Plans to expand this mine east into Leard State Forest have government approval.
Maules Creek Project(proposed by Whitehaven):
The Maules Creek Coal Project will be a 2000 hectare open-cut project located in the heart of Leard Forest, approximately 18 kilometres north east of Boggabri. The mining project is a joint venture between Whitehaven Coal (75%), ITOCHU (15%), and J-Power (10%). The joint venture is managed by its majority partner, Whitehaven Coal. The mine is approved to extract up to 13 million tonnes of coal** annually and is estimated to produce greenhouse gas emissions of about 30 million tonnes of C02 equivalent per year***. The Maules Creek Coal Project is expected to operate in excess of 30 years. ANZ bank has provided a loan to Whitehaven Coal to fund the Maules Creek project.* Thermal coal is mainly used in power generation. Coking coal is mainly used in steel production (source). ** The type of coal the Maules Creek Coal Project will extract is expected to be high quality, low ash, low sulphur and low phosphorus semi-soft coking coal and low ash, low sulphur, high energy thermal coal (source). *** Briefing paper, Maules Creek proposed coal mine: greenhouse gas emissions, Dr Ian Lowe (source).