Expansion: Most of the Leard State Forest will need to be cleared. Photo: Dallas Kilponen
WHITEHAVEN Coal has confirmed the New South Wales government has approved an expansion of its Tarrawonga coal mine, the last of three controversial projects in the Gunnedah Basin that threaten the Leard State Forest.
Whitehaven and Japanese partner Idemitsu, which owns 30 per cent of the mine, have gained state approval to lift production at Tarrawonga from 2 to 3 million tonnes of coal a year and extend the project to 2030.
The Tarrawonga expansion project now awaits approval from federal Environment Minister Tony Burke, who is also set to announce a decision on Whitehaven's Maules Creek project and Idemitsu's Boggabri expansion, both nearby.
In a dramatic protest against the three projects, which will require most of the Leard State Forest to be cleared, earlier this month Front Line Action on Coal activist Jonathan Moylan grabbed national attention when he issued a fake ANZ press release purporting to withdraw a loan to Whitehaven.
The hoax sparked a run on Whitehaven shares, which fell 9 per cent within minutes but recovered after a trading halt put an end to the misinformation.
Whitehaven shares closed on Friday unchanged at $3.50.