ABORIGINAL WORKERS WALK OFF THE JOB – WHITEHAVEN IN PROTEST AT MAULES CREEK COAL MINE

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Media Release, 8th July 2013
ABORIGINAL WORKERS WALK OFF THE JOB – WHITEHAVEN IN PROTEST AT MAULES CREEK COAL MINE

Over fifty Gomeroi Traditional Owners, Senior Elders, Elders, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community members and families have formed a picket line at Whitehaven Coal near Gunnedah in north-west NSW this morning amid a stop work action in protest of the Maules Creek Coal Mine and the incomplete and disrespectful cultural heritage process.

Whitehaven announced last week that they had obtained all extra approvals needed to commence construction on the Maules Creek Coal Mine. Traditional Owners are unhappy at the failure of Whitehaven to conduct rigorous cultural heritage surveys or to properly consult them about the mine plans, joining local farmers and environmentalists in opposing the mine.

“Our people who were working for Whitehaven Coal have walked off the job and we are determined to fight this Maules Creek mine until they show respect to the Gomeroi people and our culture,” said Gomeroi Traditional Owner Stephen Talbot.

“It is with a great deal of stress and concern that the Gomeroi Traditional people, Local Aboriginal Land Council Community and Aboriginal Community members have had to walk off the cultural heritage salvage program at the Whitehaven Maules Creek Mine.

“Whitehaven have shown no respect for Aboriginal cultural heritage or our people. Even today, they lied to our Elders about work progress. We are standing up for our Elders and for our children today.

“The Maules Creek mine will clear more than 4,000 acres of culturally significant forest, artefacts and cultural values that we have not even been allowed to assess properly yet. We have only been able to walk 0.05% of the mine site.

“The forest contains cultural heritage sites, food sources, and totems of our people, and most of them will be permanently destroyed by the planned mine.

“There hasn’t been a proper consultation process, the management plan is flawed and we don’t believe that our people have been treated with proper respect or that our concerns about the destruction of cultural heritage have been addressed.

“We are seeking an urgent intervention to stop all works until the mine management comes to the table to discuss and rectify our concerns and comes to a mutually acceptable resolution on the management and conservation of our culture and heritage.

“We will be back at Boggabri Park tomorrow morning in larger numbers and with ever more of our Elders to show our determination to stop this destruction of our cultural heritage by the Whitehaven Coal mine,” he said.