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Destroying the environment and breaking the law

Whitehaven Coal are serial offenders who have broken the law and breached their environmental conditions over 100 times repeatedly broken the law, with devastating consequences for water, the environment, Aboriginal cultural heritage and local communities. FOI documents have revealed that Whitehaven Coal’s rap sheet is so long that not even Whitehaven Coal knows how many crimes it has committed.

Whitehaven’s 4 existing open cut coal mines mines in the Namoi Valley in Northwestern NSW have cleared hundreds of hectares of the beloved and environmentally significant Leard State Forest, and had significant impacts on the local farming community with mine buy-outs, intolerable noise and dust pollution, and loss of stream flow in local creeks.

Local farmers, Traditional Owners, and conservationists have fought for over a decade to protect the cultural and environmental values of Leard Forest and the fertile lands and important water sources of the Namoi Valley, and to expose Whitehaven's illegal operations in the region.

Whitehaven Coal have been found guilty or investigated 35 times and incurred almost $1.5 million in total penalties for offences that have included stealing 1 billion litres of water without a licence during the worst drought on record at the Maules Creek Coal mine, polluting waterways, damaging Aboriginal heritage sites and illegally clearing hundreds of hectares of endangered forest. Whitehaven Coal are also facing criminal charges for an allegedly negligent mine blast that injured workers at a neighbouring coal mine.
Whitehaven Coal are also one of the biggest threats to the koala, which has recently been listed as endangered. Whitehaven Coal’s Narrabri Underground coal mine expansion will destroy almost 500 hectares of koala habitat. Whitehaven Coal have also purchased the tenements for the proposed Blackwater South Coal Mine, which could clear almost 7000 hectares of koala habitat, pushing this iconic animal closer to extinction.

Lock The Gate’s Whitehaven Coal Shame File reveals the full extent of Whitehaven’s destructive and often illegal behaviour from 2012, which covers almost every conceivable type of environmental harm.

Whitehaven Coal’s criminal behaviour and rampant destruction will massively increase if their new coal projects are allowed to proceed.

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

Date

Action

Explanation

Mine

Amount

Nov 2021

Fine

NRAR fine for illegally taking 1B L of surface water over 3 years, without a licence

Maules Creek

$200,000

Nov 2021

Penalty notices 1

Fines issued and environmental audit ordered by the EPA after the third alleged illegal discharge of dirty water since 2020.

Tarrawonga

$30,000

Nov 2021

Investigation

EPA is investigating two unsafe blasts causing toxic fumes to leave the mine area

Maules Creek

-

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 caution 2

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

Maules Creek, Tarrawonga and Werris Creek.

-

March 2021

Investigation

EPA is investigating a pollution event where styrofoam balls flowed into Back Creek & Maules Creek

Maules Creek

-

Oct 2020

Fine 3

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

Tarrawonga

 

Oct 2020

Fine 4

Uncontrolled water discharge

Werris Creek

$15,000 fine

Oct 2020

Official Caution 5

NSW Resources Regulator caution for not displaying plans

Tarrawonga

-

Sept 2020

Warning Letter 6

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

Narrabri Underground

-

Aug 2020

Enforceable Undertaking 7

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

Maules Creek

$800,000 plus costs

Aug 2020

Fine 8

Pollution of a local creek

Tarrawonga

$30,000

For incidents from 2012 - 2020 see Lock The Gate's shame file here.

The world’s scientists warn that all coal expansion must stop immediately to avoid runaway global heating. Yet Whitehaven is planning to double its coal production with four major new coal projects.