MAULES CREEK, NSW – Three protesters have locked onto equipment at two sites at Whitehaven Coal’s Maules Creek coal mine expansion project as part of the ongoing effort to halt the mine expansion that is expected to see half of the critically endangered Leard State Forest destroyed.
One protester locked onto at a drill rig in an area where the Leard Forest has been cleared to do blasting in the forest and two additional protesters locked onto equipment at a second site where a bridge for the mine’s rail spur going over the Namoi River is under construction.
“We are determined to halt construction of this site for as long as it takes to convince the Government that this coal mine expansion and the destruction of the Leard Forest should never have been allowed to go ahead,” said Phil Evans, spokesperson for the Leard Alliance.
The continued protests at Maules Creek and surrounding mines have significantly delayed mine construction and brought to light the Federal Government’s Environmental Offsets approval process now under Senate Inquiry.
“Whitehaven’s claims regarding the quality of the forest offsets it will provide in exchange for the Leard Forest have been found to be clearly inadequate and are now the subject of a criminal investigation,” Evans said. “We are calling on people from around the country to stand with us and protect this land before critical habitats such as the Leard are destroyed for short term profits that will tip our ever shrinking carbon budget.”
Whitehaven Coal’s Maules Creek project is the largest new coalmine under construction in Australia. Some 544 hectares of irreplaceable Critically Endangered Box Gum woodland are expected to be destroyed to make way for the mine, in addition to a major drop of 5 to 7 meters of the underground water table, which is expect to have an irrevocable effect on farming in the area.