THE state's mining watchdog is taking the operators of Whitehaven Coal's Narrabri mine site to court, alleging the giant breached its mining licence on several occasions.
The NSW Resources Regulator has launched legal proceedings in the NSW Land and Environment Court, claiming eight breaches of mining laws each against Narrabri Coal and Narrabri Coal Operations.
The allegations centre on the exploration Licence EL6243, which is part of Whitehaven Coal's Narrabri operations, about 24km from Boggabri.
The regulator alleges Narrabri Coal breached section 378D of the Mining Act 1992 by failing to comply with conditions of an activity approval for its exploration licence.
Eight additional charges have been levelled at Narrabri Coal Operations by the regulator for causing or permitting the commission of the offences that breached the Mining Act.
The allegations are connected to what the regulator claims is the construction of unauthorised tracks; failing to rehabilitate drill sites; and drilling of bore holes it says is contrary to the approval condition for exploration activity at the site.
The regulator said the licence holder has since complied with the requirements set out in the suspension notice.
A Whitehaven Coal spokesperson said the company took immediate action when its mining licence was suspended by the NSW Resource Regulator last year.
"Whitehaven has previously acknowledged this was an unacceptable incident," the spokesperson said.
"In response, the company took immediate rehabilitation action and implemented a range of longer-term management measures to ensure compliance with its environmental obligations in the Narrabri exploration lease area.
"These included commissioning independent and comprehensive reviews of systems and processes, implementing the full suite of remedial measures arising from these reviews, and having the full implementation of these measures independently verified."
The long-wall mine, which forms part of Whitehaven Coal's operations was found to be in breach of its licence during a state-wide compliance blitz in June last year.
"Whitehaven notes the resource regulator is satisfied the requirements of its notice suspending activity at the Narrabri exploration lease area have been met and that the suspension notice has been revoked with immediate effect," the spokesperson said.
"We are continuing to co-operate with the Resources Regulator to resolve this matter and will not be providing further comment at this time."
The impending action has prompted the Lock the Gate Alliance to make an emergency submission to the NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC) regarding Whitehaven's proposed Vickery Extension Project.
Boggabri farmer Sally Hunter said the IPC should take Tuesday's announcement into consideration while making its decision regarding Vickery.
"Whitehaven has been charged with so many offences and fined so many times for breaking NSW law with the mines it currently has - it should not be given the opportunity to do more harm with a new mine," Mrs Hunter said.
"This latest announcement makes it the sixth time Whitehaven has been taken to court for bad behaviour at its North West coal mines.
"We desperately need the IPC to take all this into account and reject this company's Vickery Coal Mine proposal."
The matters are set down for mention in the NSW Land and Environment Court on September 18.
If found guilty in court, each offence carries a maximum penalty of $1.1 million.
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