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Blockading Australia’s largest coal mine – Features – Al Jazeera English

Blockading Australia’s largest coal mine – Features – Al Jazeera English.

Maules Creek, Australia –  On a balmy Sunday in late November, the renowned Rugby Union Wallabies player David Pocock chained himself to mining equipment where he spent the next 10 hours with a handful of others to protest against the bulldozing of a state forest to make way for what will become Australia’s biggest coal mine.

In a photo posted to his Twitter account, Pocock is seen smiling and wearing a wide-brim hat, while tethered with a farmer to a super-digger near the Maules Creek mine, located in the coal-rich Gunnedah Basin of New South Wales.

Construction of the open mine, which will cost an estimated AUS $670m ($558m), according to Whitehaven Coal, started in January 2014. Since then, blockades and protests have regularly sprung up with activists chaining themselves to mining equipment and creating roadblocks in and around the mine.

They’re angry at the creation of a mine that requires the bulldozing of about 1,500 of the 8,000 hectares of Leard State Forest. It’s a unique and endangered ecosystem that is home to 396 native species of plants and animals, of which 34 threatened species live including the squirrel glider.

The mine was approved in July 2013 by the state government, and the life of the project is expected to span over three decades with an estimated 13 million tonnes of coal produced annually, once production reaches full capacity.

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