WHITEHAVEN Coal has sent a clear message to protesters that nothing they do will stop the controversial Maules Creek coalmine from proceeding.
The statement comes after more than 120 activists escalated their campaign of civil disobedience in the Leard State Forest yesterday.
Four protesters were arrested after suspending themselves from giant tripods attached to heavy machinery used for clearing the forest.
But Whitehaven Coal chief executive officer Paul Flynn said the protesters’ actions would not change the fact the project had both state and federal approval.
He said the company believed the activists represented only a minority viewpoint and the majority of locals were in favour of the $767 million development.
“This project is fully approved and has passed every single hurdle every relevant regulator can put before it and the umpire has spoken,” he said.
“At the end of the day, this project is going to go ahead. It’s fully approved and we’re on our construction path already.
“So, to the extent that these people want to have their say, we acknowledge that. But do it safely and do it legally.”
Mr Flynn also said the protesters were grossly exaggerating the impact the blockades were having on the mine’s construction.
“All this activity hasn’t resulted in any material change to our construction schedule and the notion that they’ve stopped proceedings today is completely overdone,” he said.
“Leightons, the primary contractors, are actually not even on site today. It is not a scheduled day of work.”
But Maules Creek resident Roslyn Druce said the protesters were only gaining confidence from the outpouring of support.
“It’s quite amazing because people are starting to come here and support the whole community and get the message out that the government really has failed us,” she said.
“I think Whitehaven tends to think that we will just go away ... but we’re not going away, it’s building.”