Whitehaven pleads guilty, faces $20m in fines

Whitehaven Coal has pleaded guilty to 19 charges and faces more than $20 million in fines for illegally drilling water bore holes, failing to rehabilitate drill sites and bulldozing land to build unauthorised roads at its Narrabri coal mine.

The illegal behaviour was first detected in June 2019 on Crown land incorporating the Pilliga East State Forest and on land owned by Narrabri Coal, a subsidiary of the $1.4 billion ASX-listed company that operates the mine, 24 kilometres from Boggabri. Each offence carries a maximum penalty of $1.1 million.

The mining company had attempted to settle the matter out of court with a $542,500 payment.
The mining company had attempted to settle the matter out of court with a $542,500 payment.Credit:Glenn Campbell

The matter will return to the Land and Environment Court decision for submissions on penalty on December 16.

The mining company had tried to settle the matter out of court with a $542,500 payment, but that was rejected because of “the seriousness of the conduct alleged and the collective merits of the initiatives proposed.”

The coal miner’s proposed payment included forking out $50,000 to the NSW Minerals Council “to fund further guidance on leading practice in exploration” and $89,000 to improve the coal mine’s site management with Geographic Information System.

The bulk of the proposed payment – $203,500 – was aimed at the regulator’s coffers, to pay for costs associated with investigating the miner.

In August , Whitehaven gained approval to develop the $607 million Vickery coal mine extension, clearing a crucial hurdle in its bid to extract 24 per cent more coal over 25 years.

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Source: Thanks smh.com