Whitehaven Coal mine protest continues

PROTESTERS have vowed to continue their fight against a Whitehaven Coal mine approved last week, saying it will destroy local heritage sites in north-west NSW.

Whitehaven received final approvals to begin construction at the site near Boggabri last Thursday after a three-year process.

Gomeroi traditional owner Stephen Talbot said the $767 million Maules Creek mine would clear more than 4000 acres of “culturally significant forest, artefacts and cultural values” which have not been properly assessed.

“The forest contains cultural heritage sites, food sources, and totems of our people, and most of them will be permanently destroyed by the planned mine,” he said.

“There hasn’t been a proper consultation process, the management plan is flawed and we don’t believe that our people have been treated with proper respect or that our concerns about the destruction of cultural heritage have been addressed.”

A Whitehaven spokeswoman, however, said there had been discussions with Aboriginal representative groups since the earliest days of the Maules Creek project.

“A detailed Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment was included . . . as part of the planning process and consultation has continued throughout the project,” she said.

A spokeswoman for the Wilderness society said over 50 people including traditional owners, elders and members of the non-indigenous community protested at Whitehaven’s office and at an adjacent park on Monday morning.

Mr Talbot said demonstrators would return to Boggabri Park in greater numbers today to continue their protest.

He called for all salvage works to be halted until community concerns had been addressed.

Whitehaven is permitted to extract up to 13 million tonnes of coal each year and transport 12.4 million tonnes from the site by rail each year.

The federal government gave conditional approval for the project in February this year. AAP

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