Maules Creek farmers suffer coal impacts, while Leard Forest falls

Media Release from the Leard Forest Research Node

BlastMaules Creek is in security lockdown on the eve of extermination of possibly a further 500 hectares of Leard State Forest, to expand the Maules Creek and Boggabri coal mines.

“Mine security monitors all traffic at checkpoints within a 25km radius of the mines”, said Libby Laird, of the Maules Creek Country Womens Association. “Vehicles and their passengers, including children, are routinely photographed by security personnel who also employ aggressive driving tactics to cause drivers to slow down to be identified.”

Meanwhile, affected farmers bear the economic and health brunt of living next to the mines.

Twice since 15th January, neighbouring residents have been exposed directly to blasting fumes, with one local seeking medical attention.

Sydney University postgraduate ecology student, Amelie Mareva, and biology student Naomi Jones accompanied a group of experts and community members who toured coal mine impacted farms last week.

Although their primary focus is a study of dust impacts on pollination, and ambient dust measurement, they also were on site to observe a double blast at Maules Creek mine.

Having heard about the two toxic encounters with blast fumes during the weeks prior, Ms Mareva’s team of observers were careful to note the wind speed to ensure they could make a quick getaway from any coming fumes.

“Whitehaven should desist from blasting when the wind is gusting towards private property,” she said. “Gusts from the blast locations reached 35 kph or 9.64 metres per second in the direction of residences, which is the prevailing wind direction.”

Maules Creek farmer Mr Pat Murphy is one local who has borne the costs of living near a vast open cut coal mine. Mr Murphy is readying himself for an exodus of kangaroos and feral pigs pouring out of the Leard State Forest attempting to find sanctuary.

“The supposed animal escape corridors have been proven not to work. I have been unable to sow one of my paddocks after suffering a major financial loss the previous year due to animals fleeing the Leard Forest,” he said. “We, the victims of the Maules Creek mine, are actually subsidising it.”

According to Mr Murphy, “Whitehaven has effectively co-opted nearby private properties into its own wildlife corridor. They want to be Australia’s cheapest coal producer, at our expense.”

Further comment: Anna Christie, Leard Forest Research Node, 0425 322 186