FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, 10 December, 2015
Protestors shut down three East Coast coal ports as Paris talks fail to deliver climate justice
Protestors join call for global moratorium on coal mines
(SYDNEY)– In the last days of the landmark climate change summit in Paris, and with another global heat record broken this year, activists have today simultaneously shut down operations at three coal ports on the East Coast. Protestors are demanding Australia commit to a moratorium on new coal mines as part of its efforts to prevent dangerous levels of global warming and climate change.
The actions at Brisbane, Newcastle and Port Kembla are an escalation of a global push for a moratorium on new coal mines, as the effects of climate change are felt by people around the country and around the world.
Australia has so far not responded to calls from Pacific leaders that no new coal mines can be built if the world is to avoid dangerous levels of global warming.
Vanessa Wiebford, a Newcastle resident and mother locked onto a conveyor at the Newcastle port as part of a peaceful protest said, “In the lead up to Paris, eminent Australians joined the leaders of Pacific Island nations in calling on Australia to answer the call for a global moratorium on new coal mines.Australia has failed to respond to this call.”
“Because Newcastle is home to the world’s largest coal port, our community lives with the immediate threats of having coal at our doorstep,” said Wiebford. “The coal industry is responsible for leaving our residents choking on coal dust and diesel fumes every day while it exports global warming and health problems to the world,” added Wiebford.
Community members in Wollongong scaled two coal loaders and blocked truck access to the coal port at Port Kembla. Rada Germanos, who grew up in the Illawarra said, “We’re calling for a halt to new coal expansion, with a parallel effort to support job creation and re-skilling workers in sustainable industries.”
One resident is suspended from a tree blocking the coal train tracks leading to the port in Brisbane.
“We can’t afford to pay the price of out-of-control global warming and the unmanageable bushfires, flooding, health threats and drought damages that it will bring. We won’t be passive, and let the coal industry set Australia and the world the course of intolerable and catastrophic impacts,” said Kelly Purnell, a Brisbane resident.
“If Australian Governments will not intervene, we will intervene ourselves,” Purnell concluded.
Onsite in each location and available for Interviews:
Newcastle: Vanessa Weibford, resident and mother: 0406 639 298
Brisbane: Kelly Purnell, Front Line Action on Coal: 0401 207 550
Port Kembla: Rada Germanos, Front Line Action on Coal: 0411 378 923
Follow updates on #Floodthesystem
Why are we doing this?
• Australia joined countries around the world in 2010 committing to keeping global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius.
• Five years on from that commitment, the volume of coal we export annually has increased a shocking 38%, to 393 million tonnes.
• Burning this coal produces around 940 million tonnes of carbon dioxide pollution globally – compared to Australia’s own domestic emissions of less than 600 million tonnes.
• Scientists have clearly told us that to have just a 50:50 chance of preventing this 2°C rise in global temperature to which we have committed, 95% of the coal in Australia’s region needs to stay in the ground, unburned.
• There are signs that change is here: China’s coal use has declined in real terms in the last two years; the United States has closed coal plants and its greenhouse emissions are falling; India is committed to rapid and widespread deployment of renewable energy.
• Current and projected future use of coal is consistent with global warming of between 4-6 degrees centigrade. The resulting climactic change that would occur is coal use is not reduced would be nothing short of catastrophic
• Humanity is creating around 52Gt (billions of tonnes) of greenhouse pollution annually and this number is still growing.
• To avoid dangerous levels of warming, global emissions need to stop rising, and start this year, 2015
• Global greenhouse gas emissions have already caused global average temperature rise of 0.8 degrees above pre-industrial levels, and further warming is considered already “locked-in” by cumulative emissions so far.
• It estimated that climate change is already taking 5 million lives a year. By 2030, deaths could total 100 million.
• The Climate Commission has previously reported that: “In the last 50 years the number of record hot days in Australia has more than doubled. This has increased the risk of heatwaves and associated deaths, as well as extreme bush fire weather in South Eastern and South Western Australia.”
• In Australia, more than $226 billion in commercial, industrial, road, rail and residential assets around our coasts, where most Australians live, will potentially exposed to flooding and erosion hazards at a sea-level rise of just 1.1 m.
• We are already experiencing worsening drought, extended bushfire seasons and more intense and longer heatwaves. Southern Australia has experienced a drying trend over the past few decades, characterised by a 10-20% reduction in cool-season rainfall. After 2020, predicted increase in drought frequency is estimated to cost $7.3 billion annually.
• If global temperatures reach 3°C above pre-industrial levels, an estimated 8.5% of species globally are at risk of extinction. A staggering one in six species could be lost if warming goes above 4°C
 For a full list of signatories, see here: http://www.tai.org.au/content/61-prominent-australians-back-no-new-coal-mines
 See for example http://www.carbonbrief.org/meeting-two-degree-climate-target-means-80-per-cent-of-worlds-coal-is-unburnable-study-says
 see for example, UNEP The Emissions Gap Report, November 2010
 Australian Government. “Accurate Answers to Professor Plimer’s 101 Climate Change Questions” http://www.climatechange.gov.au/climate-change/understanding-climate-change/~/media/climate-change/prof-plimer-101-questions-response-pdf.pdf
 DARA and the Climate Vulnerable Forum. 2012. Climate Vulnerability Monitor: A Guide to the Cold Calculus of a Hot Planet. 2nd Edition, DARA, Madrid, Spain, p. 24. http://daraint.org/climate-vulnerability-monitor/climate-vulnerability-monitor-2012/
 Climate Commission. 2011. The Critical Decade: Key Messages. Commonwealth of Australia (Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) ISBN: 978-1-921299-50-6
 Climate Council. Climate Change 2015: Growing Risks, Critical Choices.
 Climate Council. Climate Change 2015: Growing Risks, Critical Choices.
Media Release put out in conjuction with our Leard Forest Alliance partners.
SYDNEY, 30 October 2015: Protesters have again converged for controversial coal miner Whitehaven Coal’s AGM in Sydney. The group of 50 have staged a mock ‘clearance sale’ pointing to Whitehaven’s poor performance on the stock market and profitless growth.
“It is painful to watch Whitehaven continue to bleed its shareholders dry as it persists in sinking literally billions of dollars in this doomed coal investment,” said Charlie Wood, Campaigns Director of 350.org Australia, an organisation helping to lead the global fossil fuel divestment movement.
“We have seen the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund– the world’s largest of its kind– shed billions of dollars worth of coal investments from its $900 billion fund this year and we have seen Sydney University -.a Whitehaven shareholder – pledge to decarbonise its holdings over the next few years. With over 450 institution worldwide divesting from coal, oil and gas and major banks ruling out funding for future coal projects, it is a clear sign that the end of coal is nigh,” said Ms Wood.
The structural decline of seaborne coal markets suggests a bleak future for the coal industry. Chinese coal imports are down 30% in the year to date 2015 on the back of a 5-6% year to date decline in Chinese coal consumption. Indian coal imports collapsed 27% year-on-year in the month of September 2015. Japanese coal imports have declined 4% in the last six months. Peabody Energy (the largest American listed coal company) this week reported a net loss for the last three months of US$305m and its share price collapsed 21% in a single day as a result. All suggest the world has permanently changed for the global coal industry.
Whitehaven’s share price opened at $1.06 down from lofty heights of $6.46 when the Maules Creek project was first approved.
“The pressure is mounting from people right across Australia and world leaders like President Obama for a moratorium on new coal mining and financing. With the UN Paris climate negotiations kicking off just next month, Whitehaven better embrace the new status quo of clean energy or it and its shareholders will be left behind,” concluded Ms Wood.
Whitehaven and its controversial Maules Creek mine project have been a favoured target by activists due to the severity of the mine’s impacts on Indigenous sacred sites, the Leard State Forest and its endangered flora and fauna, the local farming community, and the climate. The mine was the target of the longest running coal mine blockade in Australian history and prominent Australians like Wallaby David Pocock and country music star Luke O’Shea were among the thousands who joined the sustained campaign of non violent direct action.
Phil Evans – 0490 064 139
Front Line Action on Coal spokesperson
Media release from the Leard Forest Research Node
24 September, 2015
Residents of Maules Creek are so fed up with the noise coming from Whitehaven’s Maules Creek coal mine they have taken it upon themselves to conduct their own study on noise levels and the impact to the surrounding valley.
The Pilot Study suggests the Department of Planning may have failed to take due care when assessing the impacts of the mine, and states that the Department may not be the appropriate body to fix the problem.
“The DOP has created a 30-year legacy of noise pollution problems for the NSW Environment Protection Authority,” said Dr Thomas Mullaney, a member of the Leard Forest Research Node, a multi-disciplinary volunteer research group which is also conducting research on the increasing dust issues in the far north east corner of the Liverpool Plains.
According to the Study, the Department ignored the advice of the Planning Assessment Committee, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and an independent group of scientists and engineers who peer reviewed the mine’s Acoustics Impact Assessment.
“They all predicted that the noise impacts would exceed what was provided by way of modeled impacts by Whitehaven Coal’s consultant,” said Dr Mullaney, whose team has taken part in months of noise modeling and analysis of the operations and impacts of the mine.
“Over a quarter of our readings exceeded the limits set by the Department of Planning, and we believe the predicted impact zone is out by kilometres,” he added.
“We call on the NSW Government to initiate a complete review of the Acoustics Impact Assessment conducted by Bridges Acoustics on behalf of Whitehaven Coal, and we expect the full data to be made public, not just the modeling.”
Local residents have expressed serious doubts about the accuracy of noise monitoring data being provided by Whitehaven to the NSW Government, as the mine reports on numerous occasions ‘IA’ – inaudible.
“In this Study we recorded significant industrial noise at similar locations, and we never once found the noise inaudible,” said Dr Mullaney.
Whitehaven’s Maules Creek mine is currently operating with 3-4 super diggers, just one quarter to a third of its proposed peak operational capacity of 12 super diggers.
“If this mine cannot stay within its noise limits operating at a fraction of its peak operating capacity, it should not be allowed to intensify its operations unless it undertakes proven mitigation measures,” he added. “Additionally the mine is situated on a ridge overlooking the community of Maules Creek, so Whitehaven will have to demonstrate how they can prevent the noise travelling a long way from this high point.”
“We have news that Whitehaven is bringing in a 5th super digger next week, which will only add to the number of noise exceedances.”
“They should not be mining during the night, when they are already causing great distress to a tranquilly quiet valley which now is subject to 24/7 industrial noise. The results of this pilot study suggests the local residents have every reason to be concerned and have a strong and valid argument in calling for night time operations to be heavily restricted, if not ceased all together,” said Dr Mullaney.
The researchers say the Maules Creek experience is a lesson for Breeza, further south in the Liverpool Plains, where community members are fighting against the Shenhua coal mine development. They say positioned on a ridge, the Shenhua mine will be perfectly positioned to broadcast noise across a vast region.
Contact: Dr Thomas Mullaney, Leard Forest Research Node 0410 768 397
The Maules Creek Noise Pilot Study and/ or the Executive Summary are available on request by contacting Dr Mullaney or on the website of the Maules Creek Community Council http://www.maulescreek.org/research/
MEDIA RELEASE from Leard Forest Research Node.
Academics and researchers from Japan’s Azabu University have come to the Leard Forest, North West NSW to ground truth statements made by Idemitsu Resources and Whitehaven Coal to the companies’ Japanese financiers.
“The companies have reported to Japan that there are no production delays, and all environmental approvals and conditions are observed,” said Mr Akira Harada, who is also Director of the Japan Tropical Forest Action Network (JATAN). “These statements appear to be misleading the Japan market.”
“We have now learned that only last week Idemitsu Resources has been fined by the NSW Department of Planning for illegally clearing land outside of the mine’s disturbance limits,” said Mr Harada.
“This is the second year in a row that Idemitsu has been punished by the NSW Government for failing to observe its conditions of approval. This information needs to be disclosed to the mine’s financiers.”
The two banks concerned are Japanese Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and the Bank of Tokyo.
“JBIC, for example, has a A$500 million stake in the Boggabri coal mine.”
“I am also very concerned about the plight of the koala, a threatened species which is very much loved in Japan and an iconic Australian animal,” said Mr Harada.
“The Leard Forest used to have enough critical habitat for the koala, but Idemitsu and Whitehaven have made it virtually uninhabitable for koalas.”
Further comment: Mr Akira Harada, Director, JATAN +81 90 9156 1291
NOTE: as Mr Harada is touring regional NSW, if you have any difficulty contacting him by phone, please call Mr Sakyo Noda on +61 0438 456 239
Pic attached: “Japanese researcher at Boggabri Coal mine tries to catch a view of Idemitsu Resources illegal forest clearing.”
More pics available on request. Call Anna Christie, Leard Forest Research Node, 0425 322 186
ACLAND, 28 AUGUST 2015. South East Queensland resident Kelly Purnell has locked onto the gate at New Hope’s Acland mine and halted trucks to demand a stop to any expansion of the mine and a full public inquiry into links between New Hope Coal, its parent company and the Liberal Party of Australia.
Ms Purnell said ‘Environmental Authority for expansion of this mine is a farce. The Oakey Coal Action Alliance are taking the fight of the Acland mine expansion to land court later this year and they need full support, especially after government assurances expansion would not go ahead. There can be no assessment on expansion of this mine until the corruption inquiry is completed and we have a result from the land court.’
Front Line Action on Coal are uniting with Lock The Gate Alliance to demand a halt on the Environmental Authority decision for stage 3 expansion of New Hope’s Acland mine which is being announced this afternoon. Lock the Gate has submitted an extensive report to the Crime and Corruption Commission which must be followed up immediately. This includes almost one million dollars paid to the Liberal Party, which subsequently saw the then Newman government reverse its opposition to Acland Stage 3 expansion.
Front Line Action on Coal spokesperson Chantelle McKenna said, ‘We call on the Palaszczuk government to conduct the promised extensive public inquiry into political donations linked to mine approvals. We’re calling out Palaszczuk for continuing the back flip trend that we’ve seen from the previous two successive state governments.’
Palaszczuk wrote to MP Peter Wellington earlier this year promising a public inquiry into links between political parties and the awarding of approvals. Ms McKenna continued, ‘The anti-corruption watchdog in theory has the power to thoroughly investigate these issues but we have so far seen nothing.’
Front Line Action on Coal spokesperson
Kelly Purnell: 0401 207 550
Chantelle McKenna: 0423 857 254
BREEZA, NSW: The third anniversary of the Leard Blockade marks a turning point in the campaign as the protest group vow to put Shenhua’s controversial Watermark mine firmly in their sites.
As news that Adani’s Carmichael coal mine in Queensland lost federal approval after a successful court challenge by Mackay Conservation Group, calls have renewed for a review of the federal approval of Shenhua’s controversial Watermark coal mine.
The group who spearheaded the longest running blockade of a coal mine in Australian history attracted thousands of people from around the globe to the small rural community of Maules Creek. The Leard Blockade camp saw scores of arrests including locals, doctors, priests and ex Wallabies captain, David Pocock.
Phil Evans, Front Line Action on Coal spokesperson said, “Back in February we vowed that never again would we allow coal companies to undermine community rights to water, land and culture. And now, like we did to Whitehaven, we are issuing a warning to Shenhua, that thousands will be back again to take up this new fight and continue our push for a just transition to a renewable energy future.”
Shenhua’s Watermark coal project is twice the size of the Maules Creek project taking in an area 1½ times larger than the Sydney CBD. Over 296 koalas will be unsafely relocated and 55 sacred Gomeroi sites lie within the project boundary.
“We supported the Gomeroi in the fight against Whitehaven, and we will support them again in this new fight against Shenhua. Coal is not good for humanity, and this is clearly on show with Shenhua’s blatant disregard for Gomeroi culture, productive farmland and important habitat,” Evans continued.
Evans stated that united, city, country and traditional owners will never be defeated. “We have offered on the ground support to all stakeholders affected.”
“We call for an official review of all coal mine approvals knowing now we can have no faith in Environment Minister Hunt’s abilities. Minister Hunt should resign as coal affected communities can have no faith in his decision making ability.”
Front Line Action on Coal spokesperson
0490 064 139
The Shenhua Watermark coal project on the fertile NSW Liverpool Plains represents a serious threat to farms, culture, habitat and the climate. Last week federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt approved the mine – larger than the city of Melbourne – and then went into hiding. No media release, and only one interview late last night where he said any dissatisfaction regarding the approval should be forwarded to NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes. In true Abbott Government style – the coal-perational matters are too secret to discuss – even Barnaby Joyce (our unlikely ally on this) is conveniently barred from Q&A to discuss the matter. Once again it seems that coal and democracy are incompatible…
The approval for the mine came with many conditions, but how can we trust Minister Hunt to uphold these conditions, when he won’t even stand up and be accountable for his decision?
Front Line Action on Coal went on a Hunt for Hunt today at his electorate office in Hastings, Victoria. But he was nowhere to be seen. Can you help us find Minister Hunt?
All jokes aside, we are seriously concerned about the approval of the Shenhua Watermark mine – we need to let Greg Hunt know that he made the wrong call, and that it is not too late to change his mind.
3 steps you can take RIGHT NOW help #StopShenhua
1. Call, email and tweet to Greg Hunt telling him that you are unhappy with his decision to preference coal over farms, Gomeroi culture, Koala habitat and a safe climate.
Phone: (02) 6277 7920 or (03) 5979 3188
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: Hey @GregHuntMP – It’s okay – you made a rash decision before your holiday. How about you #StopShenhua when you get back to work? #AusPol
2. Sign the Caroona Coal Action Group’s petition letting Minister Hunt know that “Putting a huge, dirty coal mine in Australia’s food bowl is a dumb, irresponsible idea.”
3. Spread the word – tell your friends and family about the Shenhua Watermark project, why you think it is wrong, and ask them to be a part of the movement to stop this mine from going ahead.
Watch this space as this campaign unfolds. The local Caroona Coal Action Group are no stranger to blockades and FLAC stands ready to support Gomeroi traditional custodians and local farmers in this fight.
SYDNEY, 16 JUNE 2015: Concerned citizens will rally tomorrow outside the NSW Minerals Council Beyond the Rocks conference this year being held in partnership with the NSW government. They are calling for the NSW Minerals Council – representing controversial miners Whitehaven Coal and Rio Tinto – to take a step out of the people’s democracy and to call for a transition away from the destructive coal export industry. The snap rally comes off the back of years of corruption findings between mining operations and members of the NSW parliament on both sides of politics.
Front Line Action on Coal spokesperson, Papatya Danis said, “We heard from Premier Baird throughout the election that politics was going to be done differently – but we can see quite plainly here that the Minerals Council and the NSW government are still quite cosy bedfellows.”
Miner Rio Tinto’s Warkworth mine expansion has continued to be a sore point for the Baird government – with just three months ago the Planning and Assessment Committee recommending that the village of Bulga, and its’ 350 residents, be relocated to make way for the mine.
Ms Danis continued, “The residents of Bulga played the game – went through the courts – and when they won, the NSW government changed the rules of the game to help their mates. As long as we see cosy conferences like the one here today, we know that the stench of corruption still hangs about Macquarie St.”
The conference will features a session on Whitehaven Coal’s Maules Creek project which was plagued by a mass community uprising and campaign of civil disobedience and also sessions about ‘reclaiming the social licence’ for coal.
Last night ABC’s Four Corners program featured a piece titled ‘End of Coal’ featuring prominent international and Australian figures discussing the inevitable end of the dominance of coal in Australian exports.
Media and Photo Opportunities:
Address: NSW Parliament House, Macquarie St Sydney CBD
Contact name: Papatya Danis
Phone Number: 0410 430 100
Proving once again that Whitehaven Coal either know something that the rest of the world don’t or just have a ‘put trust in blind faith’ approach to business, the scandal plagued coal miner is expanding its production despite coal being at historically low prices.
In an interview on ABC last night, Whitehaven Coal CEO Paul Flynn acknowledged the ‘contradiction’ of growth in what renowned investment bank Goldman Sachs are describing as a structural decline in coal prices, but in a more surprising contradiction he claimed to have the support of many indigenous people – or at least those he is working with – despite the Gomeroi’s long, vocal opposition to the Maules Creek mine in the Leard State Forest.
When faced with cultural vandalism and even the destruction of burial grounds, the Gomeroi prosecuted a formidable campaign of legal challenges and political appeals to protect land, water and culture. Currently, the Gomeroi traditional custodians are demanding protection of one of the 38 sacred sites that be destroyed or irrevocably damaged by Whitehaven under section 9 and 10 of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act.
“We need Lawlers’ Well,” Gomeroi/Kamilaroi elder Uncle Neville Sampson said, “if we don’t teach the next generation, we are going to lose everything.”
Uncle Neville’s fear refers to ceremony and ritual that can only be performed at the Lawlers Well site located inside the project boundary of the Maules Creek mine in the Leard State Forest. The Gomeroi, after a long and bitter battle with Whitehaven were eventually granted access to the site to perform ceremony – possibly for a last time – earlier this year. Whitehaven attempted to play the Gomeroi off against environmentalists and farmers in a typical display of mining company strategy to divide and conquer communities.
Local voices were united in their call to stop the project before it began – as evidenced by the signing of a protection treaty between the Gomeroi and the farming community led alliance of groups and individuals who Flynn describes, once again contradictingly, as ‘not reflective of local voice.’ Whitehaven’s divide and conquer tactics have failed and the protection treaty between the Leard Forest Alliance and the Gomeroi stands still today.
One thing a majority of people in the local community can most certainly agree on is that agriculture just can’t afford to lose another drop of water to the mining industry – especially with El Nino on the way and its drought like conditions. Mining industry water use is a threat to the local economy and jobs – which rode on the back of agriculture for over a century before the haul-packs and super-diggers arrived.
This is the sound of the local voices. Protection of land, water and culture. Paul Flynn and Whitehaven’s contradictions extend beyond their business acumen and into their reading of community sentiment.
**Uncle Neville and other Elders have issued a call for assistance, asking that people write to Environment Minister Greg Hunt with letters of support for the permanent protection of the sacred site. Details can be found at gomeroitraditionalcustodians.org
Phil Evans lived at the Leard Blockade for 12 months and is now in Melbourne.
Over 70 concerned Brisbane residents gathered today at CommBank’s Queen Street branch to demand they publicly rule out funding the expansion of Abbott Point and destruction of the Great Barrier Reef. The bank closed for the day rather than listen to the public’s concerns. They held a banner reading “CommBank Dont Wreck the Reef and Climate” they were joined by models in full bodypaint as the reef.
Commonwealth Bank is Australia’s second largest fossil fuel investor. At the end of 2014, the Australian Financial Review identified the Commonwealth Bank as the first/only Big 4 Australian Bank to have indicated their involvement in financing the Abbot Point/Galilee Basin expansion in Queensland. Half of the world’s major lenders have gone on record to rule out funding coal and mining industries
“The outlook for the reef is really grim, but we still have time to turn it around. We can have these mines and this port or we can have a healthy reef. We can’t have both.” Dr Selina Ward, Reef Scientist
“The reason we are here today is that if Adani is allowed to do what it wants they will destroy the reef. We are demanding CommBank to publicly rule out funding of the Galilee basin mines and abbot point coal port expansion.” said Lauren Mickle Front Line Action on Coal Spokesperson
“People in the Brisbane community are deeply concerned about what’s happening to the Reef, and we join thousands around the world prepared to stand up and defend it” Ms Mickle continued
“This Week of action is just the beginning both in Australia and internationally. The people will keep showing CommBank it’s time to rule out these projects until they heed our call and rule out the Galilee Basin coal mines and Abbot Point.”Said Ms Mickle
Further Information & comment:
Front Line Action on Coal spokesperson
0401 600 784