TWO women dressed in home-made bat costumes halted operations at Idemitsu’s mine in the Leard State Forest yesterday after suspending themselves from a coal loader.
The daring stunt saw the protesters enter the mine site under the cover of darkness, scale the equipment and attach themselves via a harness about 30m off the ground.
They unfurled a banner reading “Save the Leard” and remained up there until mid-afternoon when officers from the Police rescue squad managed to get them down.
The women, who are not believed to be locals, were arrested and taken to Narrabri Police Station, where they remained late yesterday afternoon.
The bat costumes were created to raise awareness of what the protesters claim is the threat posed to 31 endangered species, including the greater long-eared bat, from mining in the forest.
But Idemitsu Australia Resources chief executive officer Rod Bridges accused the protesters of deliberately wasting police resources through the “illegal and dangerous” stunt.
He also said the company had exceeded its regulatory obligations by acquiring more than 10,000ha of land to offset the mine’s impact on the environment.
“A separate independent study identified a population of locally-occurring threatened species, including the barking owl and turquoise parrot, living in the Boggabri Coal biodiversity area,” he said.
However, Leard Forest Alliance spokeswoman Helen War described the biodiversity offsets as a farce that needed urgent review.
“We’re looking at something that is irreplaceable,” she said. “It’s not as simple as buying up separate parcels of land and just expecting those populations (of endangered species) to simply migrate,” she said.