To whom it may concern,
We are writing in relation to Whitehaven Coal’s operations in Leard State Forest, New South Wales, Australia and the proposed takeover bid by Aston Resources. Whitehaven’s coal projects are the Maules Creek Coal Project, an expensive, marginal and controversial new open-pit coking coal mine, and the Tarrawonga Coal Mine, an existing coal mine a few kilometres away in the same forest which is applying for a proposed large expansion and continuation. The Tarrawonga mine is 30%-owned by Idemitsu, which wholly owns a large open-pit mine between Tarrawonga and the Maules Creek Coal Project, which is also expanding its impact.
The mines and mine expansions have been heavily opposed by the Maules Creek Community with the support of a number of environmental organisations, including the Lock the Gate Alliance, the Northern Inlands Council for the Environment, the National Parks Association and the Nature Conservation Council of NSW. A permanent blockade camp has been set up directly next to the mines after several high-profile mine actions1.
The mines have also been iconic in the debate around the NSW Government’s Strategic Regional Land Use Planning Policy, which was set up to protect prime agricultural lands, high priority biodiversity lands, aquifers and significant industries from coal and gas extractive industries. We believe that that Whitehaven’s proposed mines and mine expansions may not obtain approval. We note that the Maules Ck Coal Project contains large areas of a nationally-listed critically endangered ecological community which will require approval by the Commonwealth Government.
In the event that the expansions are approved, we are alarmed that 5,500ha of Tier One biodiversity forest would be cleared, at least a quarter of the local community on prime agricultural land would be displaced, and over 5 metres of water draw-down in the aquifer would likely occur to make way for mines for little purpose, given that the marginal mines could fail in the context of a falling price of coal.
The mines do not comply with the Equator Principles for Financial Institutions in relation to cumulative assessment, biodiversity conservation, health, occupational safety, cultural heritage, land conservation and the promotion of renewable energy.
We urge your company not to invest in, finance or work with Whitehaven Coal, and to divest from the company until it withdraws from these marginal mines.