About Leard State Forest
Leard State Forest is 8000 hectares of bushland located between Narrabri and Boggabri in north west NSW. The nearest township is the farming community of Maules Creek, which sits at the foothills of the Nandewar Range.
Leard State Forest includes the most extensive and intact stands of the nationally-listed and critically endangered Box-Gum Woodland remaining on the Australian continent. The forest is home to 396 species of plants and animals and includes habitat for 34 threatened species and several endangered ecological communities.
The coal mines
Open-cut coal mining threatens to destroy more than half of the Leard State Forest. Two open-cut coal mines are already operating and have approval to expand further into Leard State Forest. A third open-cut coal mine is approved and expected to begin production in 2015.
Together these mines will clear approximately 5000 hectares - that’s more than half - of Leard State Forest, and produce 20 million tonnes of coal that will be railed to the Port of Newcastle for export.
- Boggabri Coal (operated by Idemitsu): Boggabri Coal is an open-cut coal mine located in Leard State Forest about 17 kilometres north east of Boggabri. It is wholly owned and operated by Idemitsu. The mine produces thermal, PCI, and semi-soft coking coal. It is approved to expand operations further into Leard State Forest to extract 7 million tonnes per year and operate for another 21 years.
- Tarrawonga (operated by Whitehaven): Production started at Tarrawonga in 2006. The mine is located on the outskirts of Leard State Forest, and 15 kilometres east of Boggabri. The mining project is a joint venture between Whitehaven Coal (70%) and Idemitsu (30%). The joint venture is managed by its majority partner, Whitehaven Coal. This open-cut coal mine produces both semi-soft coking coal and export thermal coal*. The mine resources can support operations for about 20 years, producing 3 million tonnes per year. Plans to expand this mine east into Leard State Forest have government approval.
- Maules Creek Project (proposed by Whitehaven): The Maules Creek Coal Project will be a 2000 hectare open-cut project located in the heart of Leard Forest, approximately 18 kilometres north east of Boggabri. The mining project is a joint venture between Whitehaven Coal (75%), ITOCHU (15%), and J-Power (10%). The joint venture is managed by its majority partner, Whitehaven Coal. The mine is approved to extract up to 13 million tonnes of coal** annually and is estimated to produce greenhouse gas emissions of about 30 million tonnes of C02 equivalent per year***. The Maules Creek Coal Project is expected to operate in excess of 30 years. ANZ bank has provided a loan to Whitehaven Coal to fund the Maules Creek project.
* Thermal coal is mainly used in power generation. Coking coal is mainly used in steel production (source).
** The type of coal the Maules Creek Coal Project will extract is expected to be high quality, low ash, low sulphur and low phosphorus semi-soft coking coal and low ash, low sulphur, high energy thermal coal (source).
*** Briefing paper, Maules Creek proposed coal mine: greenhouse gas emissions, Dr Ian Lowe (source).
The camp to protect Leard State Forest
Front Line Action on Coal (FLAC) is the first blockade camp of a coal mine in Australia’s history. The camp has been in place for over a year now and is committed to team work and non-violent direct action to protect the forest and nearby farm land and water resources from coal mining.
- Fact sheet on Leard State Forest and the impact of these three coal mines, by Front Line Action on Coal.
- Whitehaven Coal information on Tarrawonga coal mine
- Whitehaven Coal information on planned Maules Creek Coal Project
- Idemitsu information on Boggabri Coal
- Planning documents for each of these three projects, NSW Government’s Department of Planning Major Projects register: Boggabri Coal, Tarrawonga, and the Maules Creek Coal Project.
- Icons Under Threat Report, by Nature Conservation Council of NSW, Hunter Community Environment Centre and The Wilderness Society.