82 arrested at Maules Creek

ACTIVISTS say more than 80 people have been arrested at the Maules Creek mine near Narrabri in an ‘‘unprecedented’’ protest against the project.

Most were charged with trespass and have been bailed to appear in Narrabri Local Court on April 29. 

Leard Forest Alliance representative Helen War said the arrest tally was rising throughout the day and had reached 82  by early Monday evening.

The protest made the headlines on Monday when a former government lawyer was arrested after chaining herself to machinery at the mine.

Protests have been staged at Maules Creek for almost two years but Ms War said the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report gave new urgency to the call to stop the mine.

Owned by the Australian listed coalminer Whitehaven Coal, Maules Creek is an open-cut project founded by the financially troubled Nathan Tinker, who was forced out of Whitehaven midway through last year.

While Ms War described the protesters as ‘‘ordinary Australians’’, the NSW Minerals Council said they were ignoring the law and putting lives at risk.

Minerals council chief executive Stephen Galilee said Maules Creek had undergone an extensive assessment process and would go ahead regardless of any protests.

"Everyone has the right to protest, but it should be done according to the laws that keep people safe and protect the property of others,’’ Mr Galilee said.

‘‘Construction sites are potentially very dangerous places for trespassers. These reckless actions must stop before someone gets killed.’’

The latest IPCC report was unveiled in Japan on Monday with new warnings about the impact of global warming on Australia.

Ms War said the coal coming from Maules Creek would emit 30 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, which was as much as ‘‘New Zealand’s entire energy sector’’.

‘‘This mine will cause twice the carbon emissions which the oalition’s Direct Action policy will sequester,’’ Ms War said.

‘‘The warnings from our scientists are clear; we cannot afford to wait for action on climate change.’’

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