Whitehaven Coal is proposing to open Australia’s largest new coal mine in the Bowen Basin, on the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef, which is in the midst of another mass bleaching event.

If the Winchester South mine gets the green light, it will be digging up coal and polluting until 2055, generating at least 583 million tonnes of climate pollution – more than the entire annual emissions of Australia

In a world that knows it needs to get off climate wrecking gas and coal, this is dangerously out of step with reality. That’s why ACF and Mackay Conservation Group (MCG) are heading to the Queensland Land Court to stop this polluting project from derailing Australia's renewable-powered future. 


Tarrawonga coal mine owned by Whitehaven Coal. Photo: Leard State Forest

Lawyers at The Environmental Defenders Office, on behalf of ACF and MCG will argue the court should not recommend a mining lease and that environmental authority should not be granted for the Winchester South project because of its significant environmental and human rights impacts. 

How dangerous is this proposed coal mine? 

If it goes ahead the mine would likely: 

  • Dig up 17 million tonnes of coal each year for 28 years, generating at least 583 million tonnes of climate pollution. 
  • Spew huge volumes of methane pollution into the air. Methane is a super-warming greenhouse gas and is already severely underreported in the Bowen Basin.  
  • Destroy at least 2,000 hectares of wildlife habitat that is home to endangered and threatened species including Koalas, the Greater glider, the Australian painted snipe, the Ornamental snake and the Squatter pigeon.  
  • Have an unacceptable impact on water resources, including the Isaac floodplain and groundwater aquifers. 
  • Impact human rights due to the climate consequences on generations of Queenslanders.

242 football fields worth of koala habitat would be destroyed to make way for six huge mine pits.


Koala walking along highway. Photo: Shutterstock.com

Whitehaven’s track record of environmental destruction 

Whitehaven has a history of breaching environmental regulations and a record of drastically underestimating emissions from its coal mines. 

Whitehaven Coal was found to have breached its environmental license at its north-western NSW mines, polluting the air and precious waterways and digging up more coal than they were legally allowed to. Worse still, they fought hard to keep this a secret. 

Whitehaven's Narrabri coal mine in NSW was discovered to be polluting more than three times the greenhouse gas emissions it forecast it would emit when granted environmental approval in 2015. Whitehaven have shown repeatedly they cannot be trusted to look after the environment. 

Approving new coal mines in 2024 sinks Australia’s renewable-powered future 

Opening new coal mines mines is incompatible with a safe climate and will fuel more extreme firestorms, floods, cyclones, heatwaves and droughts. Extreme weather disasters are devastating to nature, and to the people and communities we love.  

The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) have been clear that existing fossil fuel infrastructure is already enough to push us beyond 1.5 degrees of warming. We need to drastically reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and ramp up renewable energy projects to meet our Paris Agreement commitments and secure a liveable future.  

Every fraction of a degree matters and every bit of pollution we stop will be counted in lives saved. 


School strike for climate action. Photo: James Thomas Photography

Can this coal mine be stopped? 

The last time a coal mine proposal came before the Queensland Land Court was when Clive Palmer’s Waratah mine was rejected.  

The president of the Land Court ruled that the Waratah mine – which proposed to dig up 56 million tonnes of coal a year – “risks unacceptable climate change impacts”. 

Although the coal from Clive Palmer’s mine was destined to be shipped and burnt overseas, Land Court President Fleur Kingham recognised that “wherever the coal is burnt the emissions will contribute to environmental harm, including in Queensland”.  

Fight with ACF to stop this dangerous mine

Approving a coal mine that produces coal to be burnt through to 2055 is reckless and inappropriate.

- Kelly O'Shanassy, ACF CEO

Donate today to help ACF fight this dangerous proposal. There’s too much at stake, help us give this coal mine the flick not a tick. 

Header image. Tarrawonga coal mine owned by Whitehaven Coal. Photo: Dean Sewell

Adam Beeson

General Counsel