WHITEHAVEN COAL SHAME FILE

Whitehaven coal and its many subsidiary companies are repeat offenders who repeatedly break the law without concern for the impacts on water resources, the environment or affected communities.

In the last 10 years Whitehaven has been found guilty or investigated for breaches of the law on 35 occasions, many of them including multiple offences. They have been prosecuted numerous times and have incurred $1,497,500 in penalties to date.

Offences including stealing 1 billion litres of water without a licence during the worst drought on record at the Maules Creek Coal mine, polluting waterways, breaching noise constraints, clearing illegally and serious workplace health and safety failures.

Their shameful record is evidence that they are not fit and proper to hold a licence to operate coal mines in NSW.

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Table 1: A decade of incidents, fines and breaches of the law by Whitehaven coal


Date

Action

Explanation

Mine

Amount

Aug 2021

Enforceable undertaking

Agreement with NRAR to dismantle illegal dam and build water management structures in keeping

with mine approval

Maules Creek

-

Aug 2021

Official caution1

By the EPA, for burying waste tyres on site without being licenced to do so

Maules Creek, Tarrawonga and Werris

Creek.

-

Aug 2021

Prosecution2

Eight breaches of exploration licence related to clearing bushland without approval. Convicted.

Narrabri Underground

$372,500 in fines3

Oct 2020

Fine4

NSW Resources Regulator Penalty Notice for erosion of emplacement area causing pollution

Tarrawonga


Oct 2020

Fine5

Uncontrolled water discharge

Werris Creek

$15,000 fine

Oct 2020

Official Caution6

NSW Resources Regulator caution for not displaying plans

Tarrawonga

-



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Sept 2020

Warning Letter7

Department of Planning warning for failing to identify and protect a cultural heritage site

Narrabri Underground

-

Aug 2020

Enforceable Undertaking8

Workplace health and safety submission by Resources regulator over serious WHS incident

Maules Creek

$800,000 plus costs

Aug 20

Fine9

Pollution of a local creek

Tarrawonga

$30,000

May 20

Fine10

Overflow of sediment dam

Tarrawonga

$15,000

Apr 2020

Prosecution

South East Forest Rescue launch legal action for WHC failing to secure necessary biodiversity offsets when clearing endangered woodlands

Maules Creek

Discontinued after approval varied.

Mar 2020

Clean up notice11

Release of polystyrene balls into a local water way

Maules Creek

-

Feb 2020

Fine12

EPA penalty notice for noise exceeded noise limits

Narrabri Underground

$15,000

Feb 2020

Penalty notice13

Failing to seek consent for construction of two water pipelines

Maules Creek

$15,000


Nov 2019


Penalty notices


Two penalty notices issue for the carrying out of exploration activities without approval


Vickery


unknown

Nov 2019

Investigation

NRAR and Dept Planning investigating construction of a water pipeline not included in approval

Maules Creek

Ongoing


Oct 2019


Investigation


NRAR investigating whether mine is causing groundwater loss to local farmers


Maules Creek


Ongoing

Sept 2019

Prohibition notice14

Issued by Resources Regulator prohibiting the use of vehicles following a dangerous incident

Maules Creek

-



image



Sept 2019

Prosecution15

Natural Resources Access Regulator finds Whitehaven has taken over 3 billion litres of surface water illegally over four years

Maules Creek

Guilty plea. Sentence pending

Aug 2019

Statutory Notice

Rehabilitation

Tarrawonga and Rocglen

-

Aug 2019

Suspension16

Suspension of exploration licence for unlawful clearing of bushland for access tracks

Narrabri Underground

-

Jun 2019

Fine17

Failure to minimise dust, resulting clouds from stock pile

Narrabri Underground

$15,000

Apr 2019

Clean up Notice18

Dumping combustible canisters improperly, resulting in fires breaking out at Narrabri Council’s rubbish dump

Narrabri Underground

$120,00019

Mar 2019

Court

conviction20

Blast fume left site and drifted over neighbouring

properties

Rocglen

$38,500

Mar 2019

Penalty notice21

Blast exceeded the airblast overpressure criteria

Werris Creek

$15,000

Dec 2018

Warning letter

Sound power levels of equipment exceeded those

specified in the Noise management Plan

Narrabri Underground

-

May 2018

Penalty notice22

Failing to minimise dust pollution from truck

movements on haul roads

Maules Creek

$15,000

Mar 2018

Official caution23

From DPIE for “failure to undertake annual road noise monitoring for the 2017 calendar year”

Rocglen

-

Mar 2018

Warning letter24

Failure regarding implementation of the Blast management plan.

Tarrawonga

-

Mar 2018

Official caution

Failure regarding implementation of the Noise Management Plan

Tarrawonga

-


image



Date

Action

Explanation

Mine

Amount

Mar 2017

Penalty notice 25

Failing to provide the government with information and records during the blast investigation27

Maules Creek

$1,500

Aug 2015

2 penalty notices 26

Failure to implement proper weed and feral animal control as per Biodiversity Management Plan

Maules Creek and Tarrawonga

.

$6,000

Jul 2015

Investigation27

Blast fumes

Maules Creek

-

Dec 2014

Penalty notice28

Disturbing and Aboriginal artefact

Narrabri Underground

$3000

Dec 2014

Penalty notice29

Mining more coal than licence allows

Tarrawonga

$15,000

June 2014

Court undertaking

In response to action by Maules Creek Community Council Whitehaven gave an undertaking to the Land and Environment Court not to clear forest habitat during sensitive seasons for wildlife and changed its Biodiversity Management Plan to reinstate this commitment.30

 

-

Mar 2012

4 penalty notices31

Polluting waters and breaching its environment protection licences in November 2011 and January 2012

Narrabri Underground and Tarrawonga

$6000


image


1 Pers comm from the EPA. Investigation report currently being sought under GIPA.

2 https://www.resourcesregulator.nsw.gov.au/ data/assets/pdf_file/0006/1248567/Prosecution- proceedings-commenced-against-Narrabri-Coal-Pty-Ltd-and-Narrabri-Coal-Operations.pdf

3 Resources Regulator media release 16 August 2021

https://www.resourcesregulator.nsw.gov.au/ data/assets/pdf_file/0008/1329254/Narrabri-Coal-Pty-Ltd- and-Narrabri-Coal-Operations-Pty-Ltd-convicted-and-fined-for-mining-offences.pdf

4 Tarrawonga AR 2020 pg 83 AEMR 2004/05 (whitehavencoal.com.au)

5 EPA media Release https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/news/media-releases/2020/epamedia201007-failure-to- maintain-storm-water-controls-costs-werris-creek-mine-

$15000#:~:text=The%20NSW%20Environment%20Protection%20Authority,on%2018%20February%20this%20 year

6 Tarrawonga AR pg 84 AEMR 2004/05 (whitehavencoal.com.au)

7 Whitehaven Annual Review 2020 pg 58 NAR-Annual Review 2020.pdf (whitehavencoal.com.au)

8https://safetowork.com.au/whitehaven-commits-to-800000-undertaking-to-enhance-safety/ Resources Regulator media release

9 EPA media release EPA fines Tarrawonga Coal $30,000 after pollution discharge (nsw.gov.au)

10 EPA media release Tarrawonga Coal fined after environmental breach at mine (nsw.gov.au)

11 EPA Clean up notice here: https://app.epa.nsw.gov.au/prpoeoapp/ViewPOEONotice.aspx?DOCID=- 1&SYSUID=1&LICID=1591771

12 EPA Fine: Narrabri Coal fined $15,000 for excessive noise (nsw.gov.au)

13 Department of Planning statement: https://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/Assess-and-Regulate/About- compliance/Inspections-and-enforcements/February-2020-formal-enforcements/Penalty-Notice-issued-to- Aston-Coal-2

14 Resources Regulator media release: https://resourcesandgeoscience.nsw.gov.au/about- us/news/2019/prohibition-notice-issued-to-maules-creek-open-cut-coal-mine

15 NRAR media release: https://www.industry.nsw.gov.au/natural-resources-access-regulator/nrar-news/nsw- water-regulator-concludes-investigations-into-maules-creek-coal-mine

16 Resources Regulator suspension notice:

https://www.resourcesregulator.nsw.gov.au/ data/assets/pdf_file/0005/1153634/Suspension-Notice- Decision-document.pdf

17 EPA media release: https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/news/media-releases/2019/epamedia190625
18 EPA clean up notice: https://apps.epa.nsw.gov.au/prpoeoapp/ViewPOEONotice.aspx?DOCID=- 1&SYSUID=1&LICID=1578807

19 Part of an enforceable undertaking. Details here: https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/news/media- releases/2020/epamedia200428-narrabri-coal-to-pay-$120000-after-mine-waste-caused-landfill

20 EPA media release: https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/news/media-releases/2019/epamedia190320-whitehaven- coal-mining-ltd-convicted-and-fined-$38500-by-court

21 Department of Planning media release: https://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/Assess-and-Regulate/About- compliance/Inspections-and-enforcements/March-2019-formal-enforcements/Penalty-Notice-issued-to- Werris-Creek-Coal-Pty-Ltd

22 EPA media release: https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/news/media-releases/2017/epamedia17052202

23 This caution is cited in Rocglen Annual Review 2018.

24 Referred to the Tarrawonga Annual Review 2018.

25 EPA media release: https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/nePws/media-releases/2017/epamedia17030801
26 Department of Planning media release: https://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/-/media/Files/DPE/Media- Releases/2015/August/26082015-Miners-fined-for-environmental-breaches.pdf

27 EPA media release: https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/news/media-releases/2015/epamedia15070603
28 See Independent Environmental Audit 2017. Available here: http://www.whitehavencoal.com.au/sustainability/environmental-management/narrabri-mine/

29 EPA media release: https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/news/media-releases/2014/epamedia14120902
30 For details see a summary of this case from the Environmental Defenders Office https://www.edonsw.org.au/maules_creek_community_council_v_whitehaven_coal

31 EPA media release: https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/news/media-releases/2012/decmedia12033003

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