Protests at Whitehaven Coal’s Maules Creek mine project are ramping up with tree-clearing and construction work halted at the hands of activists.
Yesterday two women chained themselves to excavators near the site in the Leard State Forest, while a young man was suspended on a platform attached by a cable to two trees that had planned to be felled.
The action is the last in a spate of protests aiming to stop the controversial mine from going ahead, with more than eight people arrested since January 13.
Yesterday the Narrabri Shire Council voted in favour of closing down the camp, citing safety concerns.
The decision means fines can be issued to the environmentalists if they fail to comply with the move-on order, which is expected to be issued in the coming days.
However activists say the order will do little to deter them from directly opposing the mine.
“I think that’s where the council is underestimating us,” environmentalist Phil Spark said.
“If they think that by moving us from there it will make us go away, then they are wrong."
“Our movement’s growing all the time and I think that determination to see it through is increasing.”
Activists say if the mine goes ahead it will destroy the Leard State Forest, affect water and force farmers off their land.
“We’ll be continuing to take action and remain in the forest until we can protect it,” a spokesperson for Front Line Action on Coal said.
Having lost a court case which would have prevented the $767 million project from going ahead, the group says it will continue its fight against the project.
“We have exhausted every legal and political avenue to make our voices heard. Whitehaven’s mine will destroy our community and our livelihood. We’ve seen this happen in mining areas all over the country – eventually the farmers will be forced to move out. My family has lived here for generations: we are prepared to fight for this place,” a local farmer said.
Traditional Owners are also opposed to the project and say Whitehaven have not properly assessed the "culturally significant forest, artefacts and cultural values".
Whitehaven have previously called protests “a nuisance” and vowed to go ahead with the development of the project.
“Our primary concern is that any protest activity is carried out lawfully and does not endanger the safety of mine employees or emergency service personnel,” the company said.
Images: #Leardblockade - Twitter