EPA’s paltry fine fails to tackle coal mine licence breach

MEDIA RELEASE – 10 December 2014

The Greens NSW mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today said the Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) weak approach to enforcement was becoming a joke and allowing extractive industries to get away with significant licence breaches with little cost after Whitehaven Coal was fined only $15,000 for mining 136,045 tonnes of coal over its licence allowance at the Tarrawonga mine near Boggabri.  He called on the EPA to start prosecuting licences breaches rather than issuing paltry fines.

A strict condition of the Tarrawonga mine’s Environmental Protection Licence limits production of coal to 2 million tonnes per year.  However, the company mined 2,136,045 tonnes in 2013-14, 136,045 tonnes over the limit and worth about $9 million.

“It’s hardly a deterrent to issue a $15,000 fine on such an extensive breach of the licence conditions that illegally mined $9 million worth of coal,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“Whitehaven coal did not just accidently mine 136,000 tonnes of coal.  Mining and moving 136,000 tonnes of coal is a big operation, and must have been an intentional commercial decision.

“The Greens are concerned that such a paltry fine that is of no consequence to a corporation, effectively condones such a breach and sends a message to the mining companies that they can get away with such breaches.

“We often hear the government reassuring the public not to be concerned about a mining approval because strict conditions have been set, but we have an EPA effectively failing to enforce conditions.

“The Minister for the Environment, Rob Stokes, should direct the EPA to start prosecuting breaches rather than issuing tiny fines that these corporations will barely notice.”

Contact: Max Phillips – 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916


  • Thanks Jeremy for highlighting this example of what I believe is a widespread practice in the industry – break licence condition and get a slap on the wrist, make lots of money.


  • Annette Schneider

    They are so desperate for profit that they are deliberately breaking the law, and they call us criminals?
    Front Line Action on Coal are protecting our country, culture, farmers, water, health, biodiversity and climate. Those who use Non Violent Direct Action against this corrupt corporation are not being paid, we are risking our reputations and livelihoods. Why is The Minister for the Environment, Rob Stokes, not fining this corporation at least 9 million dollars?


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