Home > Call to arms: Maules Creek mine activists ask for help on the ground

Call to arms: Maules Creek mine activists ask for help on the ground

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A call to arms video has asked people to get involved in actively opposing the Maules Creek mine project, with local community members in the NSW region sending out a plea for help.

The new video, posted today on the Leard State Forest Tumblr page, features locals from the Maules Creek area who say the development of Whitehaven Coal’s mine will have devastating effects on the environment.

The group wants as many people as possible to converge on the area between the 14th and 16th of December as it continues its fight to stop the mine being built.

 “There’s plenty of jobs to be done as far as looking after the camp, keeping an eye out on what’s happening in the forest and of course actions,” one activist says.

Cliff Wallace, who has lived in the area for more than 28 years said the small community needs “as much help as we can out of the cities on this one.”

“It is a plea for help out here.”

Front Line Action on Coal have set up a protest camp in the area for more than 494 days and say if the mine goes ahead it will destroy the Leard State Forest, affect water and force farmers off their land.

This Sunday will signal the 500th day since the camp was set up and a spokesperson for the group told Australian Mining it was not planning on letting the issue go.

“We’ll be continuing to take action and remain in the forest until we can protect it,” he said.

“We’re always looking for support and want people to get out there and see first-hand the impacts of mining on the forest and to support any way they can.”

The $766 million project has seen fierce protest from some members of the local community and has been one of the more controversial development proposals since its inception.

Local farmer and president of the Maules Creek Community Council, Phil Laird, said the mine would impact on the natural environment.

 "Between them, Maules Creek and Boggabri mines will account for more than 4000hectares of the 7500-hectare Leard State Forest, leaving massive final voids that the scientific experts said should be filled in.

"Environmentally, the mines will devastate various native species including koalas and swift parrots, and as farmers, we are concerned about the damage the mines will do to the surrounding aquifers."

While the Northern Inland Council for the Environment filed a challenge to appeal the proposed mine in July, challenging the validity of former federal environment minister Tony Burke’s decision to approve the project.

The group claim Burke approved the mine without viewing an adequate offset package.

The court’s decision on whether the project should proceed is pending.

And the mine’s development continues to draw attention, with protestors gate crashing two industry events in recent months brandishing placards denouncing the mine and its investment partners.

Activists are also hoping to halt expansions of the company’s own Tarrawonga mine, and its Boggabri joint venture with Japan's Idemitsu.

Whitehaven have been steadfast in its plans to continue with the mine, stating that the ‘mere commencement of litigation’ would not stop the company in continuing with construction work.

The  project was granted with strict environmental conditions in February before being given the final go ahead in early July.

The mine will produce about 60 per cent semi-soft coking coal, and 40 per cent high-quality thermal coal.

Once at full production, Maules Creek will produce 13 million tonnes annually, of which 10.5 million tonnes will be saleable coal.

Chief of the company Paul Flynn said the mine would be bring jobs and economic benefits into the community.

"Maules Creek attracts a lot of attention, but it is a significant asset for the business with reserves of 360 million tonnes. It will double our profile,” he said.

"It is also going to be a significant contributor to the state with another 400 - 500 jobs in the area and $6.5 billion in royalties and corporate tax over the first 21 years of the project."

Image: SMH.com.au

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