Whitehaven hoaxer charged

THE Australian Securities and Investments Commission yesterday laid charges against activist Jonathan Moylan over a false media release in January stating that the ANZ bank had withdrawn funding for Whitehaven Coal’s Maules Creek project on ethical grounds.
Whitehaven hoaxer charged Whitehaven hoaxer charged Whitehaven hoaxer charged Whitehaven hoaxer charged Whitehaven hoaxer charged

The controversial phoney media release by Moylan and the Front Line Action on Coal - which said the ANZ would be withdrawing $A1.2 billion in credit for the Maules Creek coal project in New South Wales - triggered a $314 million plunge in Whitehaven's share price and confusion among its shareholders before a trading halt was called.

Meanwhile, the project faces further uncertainty in the aftermath of the Rudd leadership coup, with a new environment minister - Mark Butler - now in play.

The possibility of legal challenges by conservation groups similar to that experienced by Rio Tinto's Warkworth extension project also looms over the project.

Maules Creek, which has received all the state government approvals, is believed to have lobbied former environment minister Tony Burke and submitted its applications to the federal authorities.

But the company feels hamstrung by the slow approvals process and the danger of last-minute changes.

"Government ‘green tape' has overtaken ‘red tape' in the 35 months to gain approval for Maules Creek," Whitehaven managing director Paul Flynn said in a recent presentation.

"Federal government approval has been received for Maules Creek project and secondary approvals in the form of various management plans submitted to agencies for approval prior to commencement of construction.

"The majority of these plans have been approved, with the remainder awaiting final sign-off by agencies."

Flynn said Whitehaven's approach to a "difficult and dynamic project approval process" was active engagement with state and federal politicians and the minister's office to eliminate the issues on the bio-diversity plan.

The possibility of a legal challenge in the NSW Land and Environment Court or another concerted environmental protest against the project is also weighing on the project.

Rio Tinto is appealing a decision by the Land and Environment Court that has halted the planned extension of the Warkworth mine in the Hunter Valley, despite it receiving all federal and state approvals.

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