Whitehaven Coal has just blown billions of dollars buying two massive low-quality coal mines from BHP Mitsubishi.
To make matters worse, Whitehaven is still planning four more massive new coal projects. This means Whitehaven Coal is planning to more than triple its current coal production and turbocharge the climate crisis. Whitehaven must immediately abandon all further coal expansion.
Whitehaven has no business plan other than to expand coal mining for decades into the future.
Whitehaven is planning to triple its current coal production by taking over two BHP Mitsubishi coal mines and digging another 4 new or expanded coal projects. Whitehaven’s plans ignore the science that says all coal expansion must stop immediately and there must be a rapid phase out of existing production to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Whitehaven’s board and directors are making deliberate decisions to put millions of lives at risk and undermine global efforts to avoid dangerous climate change.
Whitehaven shareholders have said they want Whitehaven to stop wasting its short-term super profits on new coal mines. Whitehaven’s short-sighted decision to blow billions on more climate-wrecking coal mines is a slap in the face to shareholders who want the company to stop wasting company profits on coal expansion. Whitehaven must immediately abandon all further coal expansion or face a shareholder revolt.
Whitehaven Coal is facing a significant investor and environmental backlash for buying two BHP coal mines and proposing further coal expansion. Straight after the deal was announced a significant shareholder in Whitehaven sold out $157M worth of shares. Bell Rock Capital surveyed Whitehaven investors and found a huge majority wanted Whitehaven to pay dividends rather than invest in new coal mines. Shareholders have even launched a website and run ads opposing Whitehaven‘s plans and “unusual” exec bonuses ahead of Whitehaven‘s AGM. “Bell Rock has confirmed it is behind a website called Fair Shareholder Returns that has called on Whitehaven shareholders to vote against the election of directors Nicole Brooke, Wallis Graham and Raymond Zage at the company’s annual general meeting on October 26.”* The website says, “the proposed incentives for the Managing Director are highly unusual and encourage acquisitions over optimising shareholder returns and the responsible management of capital. They are highly inappropriate and must be rejected along with the Remuneration Report.”
Whitehaven is an untrustworthy and destructive company with a shocking track record of breaking the law, trashing the environment and treating local communities like dirt. Whitehaven have been found guilty or investigated 35 times for offences that have included stealing 1 billion litres of water from farmers during the worst drought on record, polluting waterways, and illegally clearing hundreds of hectares of endangered forest. Whitehaven has been in court again this month facing criminal charges over mine blasts that injured workers at a neighbouring mine. Whitehaven expanding its operations into Queensland is bad news for worker safety and for local communities who are concerned about water security and protecting Queensland’s precious natural environment.
By continuing to invest in coal expansion, Whitehaven is betting against Australia taking meaningful action to address climate change. Whitehaven’s coal expansion is a sign that Australia’s current climate policy and environmental laws are failing to reign in Australia’s biggest contribution to climate change - our export coal industry - and must urgently be improved.
All coal expansion must stop immediately for the world to have any chance of keeping global heating at safer levels, but the Australian Government continues to approve new coal mines. Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek could approve Whitehaven’s massive Narrabri coal mine expansion any day now, even though that project would be Australia’s gassiest coal mine, produce 479 million tonnes of carbon emissions and clear 500 hectares of koala habitat.
The Albanese Labor Government can not claim to be taking the climate crisis seriously while it lets dodgy coal companies like Whitehaven keep expanding coal. The Albanese Labor Government must strengthen our national environment laws to properly consider the impacts of climate change and stop approving new coal projects.
BHP Mitsubishi must take responsibility for its own dirty assets by winding down its coal mines, instead of selling them to dodgy companies like Whitehaven Coal. BHP Mitsubishi is helping to extend the life of its climate-wrecking coal mines by selling them to other coal companies so they can keep digging coal for decades into the future. BHP Mitsubishi must take responsibility for its own dirty assets by winding these coal mines down and properly rehabilitating the mine sites.