Whitehaven's Narrabri expansion clears legal hurdle

6th July 2023 By: Esmarie Iannucci - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia

Whitehaven's Narrabri expansion clears legal hurdle

PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The New South Wales Land and Environment Court has dismissed judicial review proceedings regarding the State Significant Development Consent for coal miner Whitehaven Coal’s Narrabri Stage 3 expansion project.

The proceedings were brought by the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) on behalf of the Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action Incorporated, and were seeking to invalidate the Consent on climate change related grounds.

“Our consistent position has been that this legal claim was without merit. Comprehensive assessment and evaluation of the Narrabri Stage 3 Extension project was undertaken by the Independent Planning Commission (IPC), including in relation to climate change related matters,” Whitehaven said in a statement this week.

“High quality thermal coal has an important role to play in providing energy security during the decarbonisation transition.”

The company pointed out that Federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation approval is required prior to project commencement and this process is ongoing.

The Environment Council of Central Queensland Inc, a Green group which is represented by a pro bono law firm, also has judicial review proceedings in the Federal Court in respect of the Federal Environment Minister’s decision that the Narrabri Stage 3 Underground Mine would not be a substantial cause of the physical effects of climate change on World Heritage properties and other matters of national environmental significance.

Whitehaven has joined these proceedings in support of the Minister's case. The matter is due to be heard in the Federal Court in September.

The proposed extension would extend the life of the Narrabri underground mine from 2031 to 2044, with coal mining to move to the south of the existing mine. The project is expected to deliver A$59-million in additional net economic benefits to New South Wales, employing 500 workers and paying A$317-million in direct wages to 2044.

The extension project would extract an additional 82-million tonnes of coal from the region.