BREAKING NEWS: Maules Creek Coal Mine Protest

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Feature Story - 15 December, 2013
BREAKING NEWS: On Monday morning, over 100 people gathered to protest the controversial Maules Creek coal mine in the Leard State Forest.

Raymond McLaren, 75, risks arrest to protect Leard State Forest.

Raymond McLaren risks arrest to protect Leard State Forest.

Farmers, local community members, traditional owners and concerned citizens from towns and cities across the country converged at the mine site in north west NSW and successfully stopped forest clearing and construction work.

It was a very long and inspiring day.

After 14 hours locked onto an old car, 75 year old local man, Ray McLaren - who had never been involved in a protest before but who felt he had no choice but to take strong action - was removed by police. Up to fifty other people who had locked onto machinery and chained themselves to entrance gates stayed in place until late on Monday evening and on Tuesday two more people locked onto a truck and continued to stop the clearing of the forest.

Leard State Forest is classified as a biodiversity hotspot and provides an important home to hundreds of plants and animals including over 30 threatened species such as the koala. If the Maules Creek mine - the largest coal mine currently under construction in Australia - is allowed to go ahead, it will reduce the water table by up to six metres, pour thousands of tonnes of harmful coal dust onto surrounding communities and produce about 30 million tonnes of carbon pollution per year.

It's easy to understand why people from all over Australia felt they couldn't ignore the local community's call for help.

And the protests didn't stop there. On Wednesday, traditional owners, farmers and concerned citizens took ANZ's AGM in Brisbane by storm. ANZ has provided a $1.2 billion loan facility to Whitehaven Coal for its Maules Creek project - just one in a series of environmentally devastating projects on ANZ's books.

See photos from the Flickr Gallery

Read letter of support from Greenpeace CEO, David Ritter.