Protesters clashed with staff at Whitehaven Coal’s Boggabri office yesterday as anti-mining activism took a violent turn.
More than 30 protesters converged at the Merton St office in what they described as an “impromptu visit”.
Holding placards and banners, the activists demanded the release of an independent report into Whitehaven’s environmental offset plan for the Maules Creek mine project, Northern Daily Leader reported.
However the demonstration turned ugly when a physical altercation took place in the office’s doorway.
Police were called to the scene, however no arrests were made.
Protesters claim they have a video showing a Whitehaven employee smashing one of their mobile phones.
Whitehaven Coal CEO Paul Flynn said it was “extremely regrettable” that workers were exposed to “violent intimidation and the very real risk of injury”.
“This senseless and misguided action undermined people’s right to legitimate and peaceful protest, which Whitehaven has consistently defended,” he said.
“The company, in consultation with NSW police, will take all necessary steps to protect the safety of its employees.”
Environmentalist Phil Spark conceded the situation got out of hand, but said it was nothing more serious than “push and shove”.
He said activists demanded the release of a report which will show if the mine was approved using false and misleading biodiversity information.
“It is crucial that we see how the mines propose to meet the requirements of the approval, as the deadline for our court appeal is fast approaching,” he said.
“We know this company has failed to meet the federal government’s approval conditions and we suspect the independent review confirms this. Why else would Whitehaven Coal be delaying release of this report?”
Meanwhile, protesters who have set up camp in the Leard State Forest for more than 540 days have been given their marching orders by Narrabri Shire Council.
It is expected the council will move in on Monday and start repossessing items such as tents and couches located near road reserves.
Activists say they are seeking legal advice on the decision.