A protest against mining giant Whitehaven Coal in Sydney’s CBD on June 4 drew around 200 people to hear farmers, activists and politicians speak out against an expanding coal mine which is destroying a forest.
The Maules Creek project, north of Gunnedah and east of Narrabri, is the largest coal mine currently under construction in Australia. About 1660 hectares of native woodland is under threat.
A 30,000 strong petition opposing the open cut coal mine’s expansion was to be presented to Planning Minister Pru Goward and Environment Minister Rob Stokes.
Whitehaven is spending $767 million on the mine’s expansion, after the NSW government approved its biodiversity management plan.
Greens MLC Dr Mehreen Faruqi disputed the company’s claim that clearing in winter is less disruptive to the threatened bat and bird species.
“Sending in bulldozers when native wildlife is at their most vulnerable is cruel, unacceptable and completely unnecessary. Biodiversity is not a commodity that can be traded or offset. It must be protected from irreversible damage”, she told the rally.
Sakyo Noda, a Japanese activist, who is currently occupying an area of the forest by suspending himself from a tree to prevent the clearing, said winter is a critical time for many species which go into winter dormancy.
Front Line Action on Coal reported Noda saying he felt a responsibility to protect the forest as Japanese companies J Power and Itochu have a stake in the Whitehaven project.
Neighbouring mine operator, Japanese-based Idemitsu, admitted on June 6 to sending spies into the protest camp – a tactic that was condoned in 2012 by a former ALP energy and resources minister Martin Ferguson.
Speakers at the rally, called by Greenpeace, also pointed to the devastation that will come from expanding the fossil fuel industry which will only worsen the devastating impacts of climate change.