Mining giant Whitehaven Coal has been caught out lying about its workforce plans for the controversial Vickery project in North West NSW, with the company now planning an automated fleet in direct contradiction of previous statements supplied to the government and the public.
It was reported recently that Whitehaven chief executive Paul Flynn said Whitehaven is exploring autonomous vehicles and other options to lower the mine's operating costs.
"The work that we are doing is all about optimising Vickery to ensure that we can bring that cost down. Success of an autonomous rollout at Maules Creek [mine] will be instrumental in lowering costs at Vickery given the proportion of its total costs that's going to be spent in moving dirt,” Mr Flyyn was reported saying.
These comments contradict the company’s previous statement that, "Whitehaven has no current plans for the Project to include an automated fleet" on page 170 in its response to submissions, published in August this year.
The company also made no mention of an automated workforce in its original EIS.
Breeza farmer Peter Wills said, “This is another kick in the teeth for the people battling this groundwater guzzling, unpopular coal mine.
“The people of the north west have learned from experience of Whitehaven’s mines at Werris Creek, Narrabri Underground and Maules Creek that this company does not keep promises.
“Whitehaven has left rural communities shattered and landholders struggling when groundwater bores have run completely dry adjoining Whitehaven coal mines and the company has refused to accept responsibility.
“This region is experiencing unprecedented drought - and now we learn that not only does Whitehaven want to take our water, but it is also likely to require much fewer workers than it originally suggested.
“The Independent Planning Commission has also already red-flagged more than a dozen environmental flaws with the project.
“We renew our call for the IPC to reject the proposal.”