Future longwall panels mapped out for the Narrabri Stage 3 expansion will extend the life of the mine from 2031 to 2044. (Image: Whitehaven)

A federal court sided with Australia’s Minister for the Environment and Water, Tanya Plibersek, and her decision to authorize expansion projects proposed by Whitehaven Coal and MACH Energy Australia. Environmental activists brought lawsuits to force her to reconsider the climate risks posed by additional coal production. Whitehaven is looking to extend its Narrabri operation to 2044 and MACH Is looking to extend operations at Mount Pleasant until 2048.

Whitehaven Coal said it welcomed the Federal Court judgment on October 10, 2023, dismissing an application for judicial review proceedings brought with respect of two coal mine extension projects.

On June 2, 2023, the Environment Council of Central Queensland Inc, a ‘green’ group, commenced proceedings seeking to review a decision by the Federal Minister for the Environment and Water that the Narrabri Stage 3 Underground Mine would not be a substantial cause of the physical effects of climate change on World Heritage properties and other matters of national environmental significance. Whitehaven joined these proceedings in support of the Minister’s case.

The judgment clears the way for the Minister to make a final determination in respect of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) application for Narrabri Stage 3, a project that is expected to extend the life of the mine from 2031 to 2044, support around 500 continuing jobs in New South Wales and entail a significant economic benefit to the state.