Whitehaven Coal

Activists have called for an independent inquiry into the Maules Creek coalmine in north-west NSW and its impact on the surrounding farming community after documents obtained by Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) revealed a litany of environmental licence breaches over the past six years.

EJA applied to access documents known as annual returns, which detail breaches or "non-compliance with [environmental] licence", through the Government Information (Public Access) Act. But Whitehaven Coal, which owns the Maules Creek mine, fought them all the way.

If we apply for a loan, we are subject to financial interrogation and if it looks like we will not be able to repay it the lender will not take the risk. It is reasonable to assume the same strict conditions apply when mining companies wish to buy or lease our land.

When then-Minister for the Environment and Water Tony Burke signed over more than 1500 hectares of native vegetation, including endangered woodlands, to Whitehaven Coal in 2013, he did so amid contention and uncertainty. It would not go unchallenged.

Today, a parapet of accumulated earth protrudes from the Leard State Forest. The Maules Creek open-cut coalmine is now fully operational. But when exploitation ceases, the crater left in the mine's place will not be filled for centuries.

The battle to save land and water in north-west NSW's Liverpool Plains, from coal and coal seam gas continues to be fought by Aboriginal communities, farmers, local councils and environmentalists. People in Tamworth, Moree, Narrabri, Boggabri, Gunnedah, Quirindi and Toomelah are fighting coalmining in the Leard State Forest and the Shenhua Watermark coalmine near Gunnedah. They are battling huge coal seam gas (CSG) projects in the Pilliga and gas projects in Narrabri and Tamworth.
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