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Mining sector warns protesters are risking serious injury

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NSW Minerals Council chief, Stephen Galilee, says those protesting in the Leard Forest are putting themselves and others at risk and is calling for a stop to the action before someone dies.

The comments come after more than 80 people walked onto the Maules Creek mine site this morning in protest of the project.

It is understood more than 30 people have been arrested so far, with many chaining themselves to machinery at the construction site.

"Everyone has the right to protest, but it should be done according to the laws that keep people safe and protect the property of others. Construction sites are potentially very dangerous places for trespassers. These reckless actions must stop before someone gets killed," Galilee said.

“This project has been extensively assessed and received all state and federal legal approvals.Construction is proceeding well and the project will be completed, regardless of the actions of the activists who are unnecessarily putting themselves and others at risk.”

Galilee also questioned claims by activists who undertake acts of civil disobedience that they do so to judge the ‘social licence’ of projects.

“What right do protesters who choose to commit dangerous illegal acts have to judge the social licence of others?” Galilee asked.

“While the rest of us are prepared to abide by the law, a small group of radical activists have decided they are above the law.

“These activists want to sit in judgement over the rest of society but are not prepared to play by the rules that apply to the rest of us.”

Whitehaven Coal have previously labelled protests at the site a ”nuisance” and vowed to go ahead with the $766 million project.

“Protests are a nuisance – mostly for Police – but they will not deter Whitehaven Coal from getting on with building Maules Creek and delivering on the substantial economic benefits it will bring to the region,” the company has said.

Over 40 people have been arrested in the area since December as part of ongoing protests against coal mining in the Leard State Forest.

The Minerals Council of Australia has recently called on The Greens to stop supporting acts of civil disobedience across work sites as activism becomes increasingly dangerous.

The council says people are in danger of serious injury as protesters continue to chain themselves to vehicles, dangle from machinery dressed as bats and lie in the path of vehicles.

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