16 April 2014

Maules Creek Biodiversity Offsets Package

Whitehaven Coal Limited (ASX: WHC) has today welcomed advice from the Commonwealth Department of the Environment (Department) in relation to the biodiversity offsets package for the Company’s flagship Maules Creek Project and the Independent Review of the package. The Independent Review found the offsets package to be fully compliant with the Project’s approval conditions.

Whitehaven has also welcomed advice that Departmental inquiries into allegations that the Maules Creek offsets package was based on false and misleading information have been finalised, and that no further action will be taken by the Department in relation to this matter.

“We welcome the fact that the Government has dismissed the claim that our offsets package was based on false and misleading information”, said Whitehaven Coal CEO and Managing Director Paul Flynn.

The Department has concluded its review of the Independent Peer Review of Offsets for the Maules Creek Mine Project, prepared by the independent reviewer approved by the Department of the Environment. The Department also considered the subsequent Verification Report for Additional Offsets prepared by the same author as the Independent Review.

The Department has advised that:

  • The findings of both Reports are sound based on the data and information provided.
  • Both Reports adequately review both the originally proposed offsets and the additional offsets, verifying the total quantity of CEEC (Box Gum Woodland) and threatened fauna habitat.
  • The quantity and quality of the offsets for the threatened fauna species meets the requirements of the conditions of the approval.

“Today’s outcome is a very significant endorsement of the robustness of the scientific methodologies applied by both the company and the independent reviewer, and the substantial overall adequacy of the offsets package being offered.

The Department has indicated that it will work with Whitehaven to ensure that the final offsets package reflects the overall proportion of the derived native grassland and woodland forms of Box Gum Woodland in the areas being cleared, including, where necessary, the acquisition of additional offset property.

“While we continue to work with the Government on the implementation of our offsets plan it is business as usual at the Maules Creek site, with work progressing in accordance with our schedule.”

Whitehaven’s approved offsets package provides for the conservation in perpetuity of approximately 13,000 hectares of equivalent or better quality land in exchange for the disturbance of approximately 1,600 hectares of land. Depending on the conservation attribute being addressed, this represents an offset ratio to disturbance of five times in less sensitive areas and over ten times in more sensitive areas. This commitment will contribute significantly to the protection and management of local biodiversity values over the long-term.

Both the Independent Review and the Verification Report will be made available on the Environment tab of the Company’s website.

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