Protesters: Maules Creek mining activites threatens local indigenous culture and history

Goomeroi Protest against Whitehaven Coal - Gunnedah 13 July 2013
The Gomeroi community of Gunnedah and surrounding areas have been shocked that Whitehaven Coal are commencing mining activities on sacred land

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Kelly Fuller and Lisa Herbert
ABC New England North West 10 July 2013

Protestors have once again gathered outside the office of Whitehaven in Boggabri, calling for a halt to salvage works at the Maules Creek mine site because of threats to local indigenous culture and history.

Local indigenous groups have been involved in collecting for preservation, indigenous artifacts from the land to be impacted by the mine, but they have raised several concerns about the process including the time frame given to cover a considerable area.

Toni Comber, CEO of the Red Chief Land Council says there are concerns with the methodology associated with the collection process, and storage of the artefacts.

It's the second morning in a row the group has targeted the mining company about its plans for a new major coal mine.

The protest group including local elders says it has serious concerns about how the company is managing its Aboriginal Cultural Heritage plan.

"We are confronted by disrespectful large corporation action," Stephen Talbot told the gathering this morning.

The Genocide of our culture, Whitehaven, shame, shame, shame.
-Stephen Talbot, Protestor

"Whitehaven and their consultant's stooped to another all time low by approaching some family members of our communities to undertake scab labour and disregard our culture and our concerns."

The group has written to the NSW Planning minister Brad Hazzard advising him the Gomeroi traditional people, Local Aboriginal land council community and other Aboriginal communities have walked off a cultural heritage salvage program at the Whitehaven Maules Creek mine as of Friday.

It wants a written assurance from the mine that all salvage programs and other works will halt until the mine management comes to the table to discuss our concerns and come to a mutually acceptable resolution to the management and conservation of our culture and heritage.

A spokeswoman for Minister Hazzard has confirmed the receipt of the letter and says he will respond in due course but not comment on the protest.

The spokeswoman says "The department is happy to talk with the protesters to discuss their concerns about the Maules Creek Coal Project.

The department will fully investigate any alleged breaches of the conditions of approval in consultation with relevant Aboriginal representatives and Maules Creek Coal. "

Aboriginal groups clash over Maules Creek mine

Ian Kirkwood Newcastle Herald 8 July 2013

Gomeroi workers and supporters protest at the Whitehaven Coal office at Boggabri this morning.

One Aboriginal group has criticised another Aboriginal group’s involvement with Whitehaven Coal over the Maules Creek mine being built near Boggabri.

About 50 people gathered behind an Aboriginal flag held a protest outside Whitehaven’s Boggabri office this morning, led by Gomeroi traditional owner Stephen Talbot.

Mr Talbot criticised Whitehaven’s approach to Aboriginal cultural issues but admitted that other Gunnedah area Aboriginals were working with the company.

The group nominated by Mr Talbot, Red Chief Local Land Council, said they would respond to the Newcastle Herald shortly.

Mr Talbot, who said he lived in Maitland but was born in the Gunnedah area, said he had ‘‘come back home" to fight Whitehaven.

He said the approvals system allowed coal companies to pay Aboriginals with no proper connection to the area to act as ‘‘cultural heritage consultants".

‘‘Whitehaven have shown no respect for Aboriginal cultural heritage or our people," Mr Talbot said.

‘‘Even today, they lied to our elders about work progress. We are standing up for our elders and for our children today.

"The Maules Creek mine will clear more than 4000 acres of culturally significant forest, artefacts and cultural values that we have not even been allowed to assess properly yet. We have only been able to walk 0.05per cent of the mine site. "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.

"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 spokesperson said the company had ‘‘held discussions and carried out formal consultation with a number of local Aboriginal representative groups" in relation to Maules Creek.

The spokesperson said the Maules Creek Aboriginal archaeology and cultural heritage management plan was approved by the state government and available on Whitehaven’s website.

It's all about Greed & Destruction
- Bugger Culture & Caring for Country

Whitehaven's Maules Creek gets belated go-ahead from NSW government

Business Spectator The Australian 4 July 2013

Whitehaven Coal has been given the green light for its $767 million Maules Creek open cut coal mine in north-west New South Wales, almost three years after it started the approvals process.

Whitehaven Coal managing director Paul Flynn said the project had "been through one of the most rigorous planning approvals processes ever undertaken by a mine in NSW and has been reviewed by a wide range of highly regarded environmental experts".

Today Whitehaven was given final approval to start developing the coal mine, at Gunnedah Basin, after a drawn-out approvals process that started in August 2010.

Work on the site will start next week, while first coal sales are expected to start in the second half next year.

The federal government granted the project conditional approval in February.

The government delayed the process on pressure from environmentalists, who feared Whitehaven would destroy 1360ha of koala habitat and force farmers off their land through soil damage if the mine was allowed to go ahead.

The Nature Conservation Council of NSW was calling on the federal government to reject the proposal.

Production for Maules Creek has been capped at 13 Mt of coal per year.

Managing director Paul Flynn said preparation of the mine site, near Boggabri, would begin next week.

First coal sales are expected by the second half of 2014.

“The project is one of the most significant investments currently underway in regional NSW,'' he said in a statement.

“It expects to employ 340 full time equivalent employees and contractors in the construction phase and approximately 470 during ongoing operations.''

Whitehaven expects $767 million will be spent on construction of the mine, which will be shared amongst Whitehaven and the other stakeholders in the project, Japan's Itochu and J-Power.

Whitehaven shares were up 4 cents at $2.28 at 2.34pm AEST.

Indigenous Land Use Agreement = Indigenous Land Under Attack
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