Maules Creek CCC Meeting 16.5.2018


These are notes and not the official minutes from the Maules Creek coal mine Community Consultative Committee (CCC) meeting held on 16 May 2018 at the Boggabri Golf Club, Gunnedah Road, Boggabri NSW 2382.

The official minutes won’t be approved and released until the 16.8.2018 and due to the interest in declining groundwater levels at Maules Creek these notes are put up on the website for the information of the community. A functioning CCC is a condition in Schedule 5 of the Project Approval.


The CCC guidelines can be found here. Under Section 6 Communication with the broader community, the guidelines say;

“Committee members are encouraged to discuss concerns and disseminate information about the project to the wider community, including stakeholder groups”.

Attendees: Darren Swain (DS) – WHC, Cr Robert Kneale (RK) – Narrabri Council, Peter Wilkinson (PWi) – WHC, Scott Mitchell (SM) – WHC, Carolyn Nancarrow (CN) – Community, Cath Collyer (CC) – Community, Libby Laird (LL) – Community, Anna Christie (AC) – Environmental Representative (alternate) Kristen Golly WHC, Lindsay Fulloon, Megan Proust- EPA, Rebecca Scriviner- EPA.

Apologies: Steve Eather (SE), Jack Warnock (JW) – Community, Simmone Moodie (SM) – Community – Aboriginal Representative, Kerrie Clarke (KC) – Environmental Representative.


Independent Chair: David Ross (DR)

D.S: Excellent safety record.

Community: (Incredulous.) Does this exclude all the accidents in April?

DS: Yes.

Discussion of injured person. Flown to hospital. One has shoulder injury. Not well.

The other has slight injury. Bruising.

AC: what about the digger that fell in the pit?

PW: No digger fell in the pit.

AC: OK . Well, workers live in the community. Unless you turn into a spy agency, people will talk about work. So not something to report. What are the triggers for disclosing?

PW: not saying. Read it in the Act. Just say that this accident was reportable.

Employment /approvals/ consultation requirements….. see pdf Maules Creek Coal Mine CCC Meting. May 2018. Author: WHC.

(90 local employees. 41 new trainees)

LL: Automated trucks?

PW: “None at the moment. Consideration. New trucks start. Automated operation not in. July 2018 maybe.

Working with equipment manufacturer.

Gunnedah and Narrabri Council- we’re looking at it as a project. Technology is developing rapidly. Automated trucks are something for the future.

AC: The Independent Biodiversity Auditor didn’t spend much time here. In fact only one day to do all the offsets. And they are very spread out. Did anyone go with him- the auditor?

SM: Andrew Wright.

AC: I don’t see how he could have done a proper assessment. In other words it would take a long time to get to them and assess them. This compares very poorly against Boggabri Coal IB Auditor. We also had to work with them on this process. Their Auditor spent three days looking at less offsets that were closer together.

DS: Back to slides: 2018 clearing campaign finished in Mid-March.

We did get an official caution for not meeting noise requirement, but we are achieving environmental compliance.

LL: Is this about sound power and what pieces of equipment?

PW: fixed plant, transfer station, train load out… half a dozen pieces.

LL: How did this get found out?

PW: Compliance did an audit. It is written down.

LL: Are you talking about the 2016 or 17 Annual Review?

PW: 2016. There are a list of pieces of equipment that are higher than predicted in the EA. But this is meaningless because we are achieving environmental compliance.

LL: Disturbance Limits approach document- is it available now?

DS: It is on the website.

DS: Licence 13050 last actively used today. Currently in use.

All the water we use comes from the river licences.

P.W: “We have recently pumped water into the pit. State water asked us to store a bit more water in the pit.

LL: How much water?

P.W: About 700 ML- not exact. River water. Seepage in 2016/17- a little bit of an increase as having gone deeper in the pit. … Our licence, 3000 ML is enough for us in a dry year… We have zone licences, but we don’t have bore licences.

AC You have licences at the surrounding offsets. Aren’t they in Zone 11?

SM: There might be some offsets that have water licences.

DS: Water licences … there might be some one in Sydney… they can own a Zone 11 water licence they may have picked up some water licences…

AC: However you own water licences at the offsets, which are integral to the mine operation..

[David Ross intervenes “We don’t want to have a tennis match here. Cuts off discussion.]

PW: Keepit Dam release water on less occasions…

AC: Does the pump in you pit have a meter on it?

SM: It is manually read.

LL: what kind of meter- flow or telemetry?

SM: Flow.

SM: ….10 Megalitres….

LL: I have some Community Questions: Is it true that your conditions require the original MC mine water model to be recalibrated in 2017 and every 3 years after this?

SM: Yes

LL: so the water report that you provided community in Sept 2017 (following a previous written request in January 2017) was done using recalibrated model?

SM: No.

AC:  For the benefit of us all, can you please explain what is involved in recalibrating the water model?

SM:   Lots of things.  Water balance, input and our actual data.

AC:  Where is the model?

SM: recalibrated model is not publicly available.

AC: so was the water report that you provided community in Sept 2017 done using recalibrated model?

SM: Yes.

PW: Recalibrated model suggests the EA model overestimated seepage into pit.   latest model says less than 2 Megalitres per year.  I haven’t seen much water seepage in pit.

The Water Management Plan is not approved.

MCCM footprint is not in Zone 11. MCCM has very little impact on Zone 11. It is a northern Zone. Then we have a Southern Zone….


$60,000 to Girls Academy

Tonnage: Going to 11 million tonne.

SM: The Annual Review is still with DPE.

LL: Where is it we normally get it at this meeting? When submitted?

SM: Submitted mid March.

LL: Last year signed off mid –Feb. Dated January.

EPA Presentation – Lindsay Fulloon,

Larry Clarke- EPA technical assessments noise unit.

“Unit made up of Engineers and scientists. Specialist unit. Resource for Lindsay when assessing development applications.

Complaint response: compliance monitoring for mines. Century zinc- Solomon Islands- noise impact assessment.

Equipment- precision- data logger, noise prediction models, compliance assessment and monitoring. Wider range of responses- objective- correction factors from literature. Gov’t sets out measures se apply to industry. Gov’t sets objectives. Sound pressure levels measured precisely. Australian and international measures.

“sensitive receivers.. blah…. Blah…

Tolerance +/- 1 dB, tolerance ½ dB, some people can perceive 2db difference, all can perceive 3db difference.

Monitoring… Isopleth= noise contours.

NSW Industrial noise- specifies meteorology

Lindsay: 2 reports CCC member report, DPE established this condition EPA. If CCC wants more detail….

Reporting licensees required to submit on website.

POEO regulations- we don’t specify what requirement in the licences. Regulation – provide this information. EPA can’t change.

CN: Asking WHC workers not to park across driveways on Stock Road.

AC: What is happening at Willeroi?

KG: Willeroi is a combined offset. Not for MCCM. Rocglen, Sunnyside??? Nothing going on. Evidence of historical agriculture that has been managed.

AC: Shareholders at the Whitehaven AGM, 27th October 2017 report that Mr Flynn repeated the claims that there are no complaints.

The EPA has now refuted Mr Flynn’s statements, which were false and misleading.

At the Annual General Meeting, the following Question was asked by a Shareholder1:

“In July of this year the EPA of NSW responsible for issuing the licence EPL 20221 for the Maules Creek mine escalated the risk level of that mine from level 2 to level 3 which is the highest risk level classification. Of 49 coalmines in NSW, only 2 others share this serious risk classification and both of those mines have been prosecuted for waterway pollution. Why was the risk category of Maules Creek mine escalated this year? And how is this new state of affairs impact forecast liabilities especially regarding any facts disclosed for negotiation of new financing agreements in August”

This was Whitehaven Coal CEO’s response:

“The current assessment that you have described – that is true. We have certainly taken that up with the EPA. In fact we will challenge that and the substance of our challenge will really be that the 2 matters on which that classification turned on were largely be administrative matters not actually risk in terms of environmental outcomes. We were asked to perform an audit onsite for noise and dust. And they actually asked us to do that because they had a lot of complaints from a landowner nearby to the mine who is well, was in the acquisition zone and as many of you would know has been seeking to extract a very large price for his piece of land, ah, and so his modus operandi is to ring the EPA up several times a day and ah, and complain. Now the EPA then suggested to us, ‘Why don’t we just do an audit and just prove to everybody that its actually not as bad as this gentleman seems to be making out.” …

Now our view is the motivation including the initiation of that audit was to get, to deal with a serial complainant who had no basis other than a commercial one, ..”

LL: when residents heard of this exchange their response was- I wonder if he was talking about me!

What were the four issues that put MCCM at a level 3 risk rating?

Lindsay: Penalty notice for dust omissions, official caution, mandatory Enviro Audit. And will have to get back on the other one.