Whitehaven Coal Mining Ltd convicted and fined $38,500 by Court

The NSW Land and Environment Court has convicted and fined Whitehaven Coal Mining Limited $38,500 after it pleaded guilty to breaching its environment protection licence for a blast at its Rocglen Mine near Gunnedah in August 2016, following successful prosecution by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

Whitehaven were also ordered to pay the EPA’s legal costs and to publish notices of the result on its parent company website and in national, state and local newspapers.

The Court heard that during routine blasting operations at the Rocglen open-cut coal mine, a post-blast fume cloud made up of potentially harmful oxides of nitrogen gas, left the mine site and passed over neighbouring farmland. Fortunately, no people or livestock were harmed as a result of the fumes.

In Court, Whitehaven agreed that it had carried out its licensed activities in a less than competent manner. This included that it failed to use a type of explosive that would have minimised the risk of hazardous fume generation, it overloaded some blast holes with explosives and it breached its own blasting procedures.

The Court also heard that Whitehaven failed to notify neighbouring properties when the potentially hazardous fumes moved offsite.

EPA Acting Chief Environmental Regulator Giselle Howard said. the Court’s decision sent an important message to Whitehaven and other mining companies regarding the importance of fulfilling each and every obligation under their environment protection licences.

“The conviction, fines and other orders stand as an reminder for those holding an EPA licence to carry out their activities lawfully.”