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NSW coal mine extension amid climate fears | Blue Mountains Gazette

The New South Wales government has conditionally approved the expansion of a coal mine in the north of the state, with critics calling the move “reckless” and “catastrophic”.

The Narrabri underground mine, operated by Whitehaven for the past decade, produces 11 million tonnes of coal per year.

Initially scheduled to mine coal until 2031, the Independent Planning Commission on Friday granted it an extension until 2044 to extract an additional 82 million tonnes.

The IPC panel said the project strikes an “appropriate balance between relevant environmental, economic and social considerations”.

Whitehaven says the extension will provide the state with nearly $600 million in economic benefits and keep 500 local jobs alive for decades.

The company said it would “reduce CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions at the mine over time”.

But the endorsement has been criticized by those calling for action on climate change.

“The decision to approve the extension of Whitehaven Coal’s Narrabri mine…is reckless and dangerous given the climate disasters Australia is currently experiencing,” said Rod Campbell, director of research at the Australia Institute.

“The NSW Government cannot hide the fact that these broadcasts will be their responsibility.”

Boggabri farmer Sally Hunter referred to a ruling by the NSW Lands and Environment Court on Thursday fining Whitehaven $158,000 for polluting a stream in the Narrabri area.

“It’s unbelievable that this company can commit serious crimes and instead of being appropriately punished they are being given more land to destroy, more water to drain, more lives to disrupt,” Ms Hunter said. , based in the Narrabri Shire.

NSW Independent MP Justin Field called Friday’s decision “unfathomable” in the context of flooding in the Northern Rivers region, which has claimed 10 lives so far.

“This is a catastrophic decision for NSW and the planet,” he said.

“The fact that new coal mines can be approved through 2044 under existing policy makes a mockery of the government’s (state) climate targets of 50% by 2030.

“Any economic benefit is clearly dwarfed by the billions it is already costing taxpayers and individuals to respond and rebuild in the wake of the cascade of climate crises experienced by communities across the state.”

Green MP Cate Faehrmann called the approval ‘nothing short of criminal’, saying it would ‘further contribute to the misery and trauma that communities are facing following increasingly catastrophic weather events’ .

Hundreds of schoolchildren held a climate change rally outside the Prime Minister’s official residence in Kirribilli last month, and lone protesters have blocked traffic in Sydney in recent weeks.

In March, the Federal Court of New South Wales also ruled unanimously that the Commonwealth government had no duty of care to children caused by climate change.

Eight high school students sued federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley in 2020, seeking to block the expansion of a northwest New South Wales coal mine that is expected to produce an additional 100 million tonnes of emissions of carbon.

Ms Ley won her appeal in March, which students described as “devastating”.

The Vickery Mine is also owned by Whitehaven.

Australian Associated Press