Lock the Gate Alliance has condemned Whitehaven's plan to expand its Maules Creek coal mine, saying it highlights the company’s total disregard for the damage coal is inflicting on local communities and the climate.
Whitehaven began contacting locals late last week and quietly uploaded expansion plans on its website.
Based on Whitehaven’s map - which does not include an exact size - the expansion would bring the mine closer to Maules Creek village, including a local school, and would carve out more of Leard State Forest.
Leard Forest was the site of mass community protests, which involved now Senator David Pocock, when Whitehaven began constructing the coal mine there in 2014.
The expansion would mean Maules Creek coal mine would operate until 2043 - nine years more than the existing operation. Whitehaven would mine 126 million tonnes of coal in total if the expansion goes ahead.
The application comes as Whitehaven faces fresh scrutiny over emissions produced at its Narrabri mine, with media reporting it is polluting three times more than originally expected.
Boggabri farmer Sally Hunter said, "Whitehaven knows increasingly ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets both domestically and in customer countries mean the end is nigh for coal.
“Rather than sensibly introducing a diversification plan to support local workers, the company is going hell for leather to rip what it can out of the ground before the market finally crashes, leaving everyone high and dry.
“Failing to prepare for the inevitable risks leaving economies in places like Boggabri and Narrabri destitute when the crash comes. It’s time for government intervention to prevent vampires like Whitehaven from sucking our region dry.”
Maules Creek resident Ros Druce said, “Whitehaven has proved over the years it has callous disregard for the local community and has racked up a list of fines and criminal offences (Lock the Gate's Whitehaven shame file is available here).
“So far, no penalty has been significant enough to make this repeat offender change its ways.
“The Minns Government must take action against Whitehaven where the Perrottet Government failed. At the very least, Whitehaven must not be rewarded with permission to build any new coal projects or expansions.”
Despite conducting a Community Consultative Committee meeting on Wednesday May 24th, Whitehaven did not mention its expansion plans, instead quietly uploading them to the website a week later.