20 September 2023

Whitehaven Coal’s Sustainability Report 2023

Sustainability Report 2023


Sustainability Highlights 2023


Further sustainability information


Our Sustainability Report 2023 outlines how we deliver value to our customers, workforce, communities, suppliers, shareholders and other stakeholders.

We recognise that strong sustainability management and performance is vital and we are proud to continue to deliver value in a range of areas:

      • We operate responsibly – our workplaces are becoming more diverse, and our investment in strengthening safety and environmental management systems is delivering welcome improvements.
      • We support our local communities – our direct financial benefits to regional communities are significant, with $560 million spent via salaries and wages, procurement, and community investments. We will also contribute $1.65 billion in taxes and royalties for FY23, supporting the broader economy.
      • We are playing a practical and positive role in the transition towards a lower-carbon future. We will continue to help our customers’ meet their decarbonisation goals while supporting global energy security.
      • We are progressing our operational emissions reduction measures and will meet our obligations under the reformed Safeguard Mechanism.

The fundamentals of our business are strong, enabling us to deliver on our purpose to support and sustain regional communities by exporting high-quality coal.

Managing Director and CEO’s message

As a company, we view our performance holistically and aim to deliver lasting impacts through our full value chain. In FY23, we delivered strong improvements and positive outcomes across our priority sustainability areas, and achieved a record financial result.


In FY23, we delivered strong improvements and positive outcomes across our priority sustainability areas, and achieved a record financial result. As a company, we view our performance holistically and aim to deliver lasting impacts through our full value chain.


The safety and wellbeing of our people is our foremost priority, and I am pleased to report we continued to see a positive trend in our safety metrics. Our total recordable injury frequency rate (TRIFR) for employees and contractors improved by 13%, and our near miss frequency rate declined 22% on the prior year.

These results are a testament to our targeted efforts to build a stronger, more mature safety culture and capability. A key area of progress has been better identification and investigation of safety hazards and incidents to prevent future incidents by sharing and applying our learnings across the organisation.

Economy-wide labour constraints continue to challenge our business and the industry more broadly, We are addressing this through targeted attraction, recruitment and retention strategies.

To further enhance our employee value proposition, we are taking practical steps to ensure we have the right culture, reward strategies and development opportunities in place for our people. We are seeing these initiatives get results. Our latest workforce engagement survey reported a 5% increase in overall engagement level, and we have seen a decrease in our employee turnover.

Fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace is also a key priority, and we are making pleasing progress towards the goal we set in FY22 to have women represent 20% of employees and 20% of leadership roles by the end of FY26. Women represented 17.3% of our employees and held 14.1% of leadership roles at the end of FY23. We also continued to maintain a high representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across the workforce,
at 10.5%.

Strategy and decarbonisation

Looking beyond our business, global events over the past 12 months have again underscored the importance of access to secure, reliable and affordable energy – domestically and abroad. The uncertainty and volatility we have seen in the global energy market has further validated the enduring role Whitehaven Coal (Whitehaven) plays in supporting global access to energy for industrial activity and economic development over the long term.

The energy transition will take many decades and high-quality, high-calorific value (high-CV) thermal coal will continue to be an important resource.

Given the global focus on energy security and supply, it has unsurprisingly remained a key area of public interest and policy focus here in Australia. Whitehaven continues to advocate for sensible policy outcomes that maintain the global competitiveness of Australia’s coal sector and enable it to continue its significant contribution to the nation’s economic prosperity.

In FY23, Australian coal (thermal and metallurgical) export revenue totalled $128 billion – more than iron ore and more than gold, aluminium and copper combined. In New South Wales (NSW), coal royalties delivered $5.5 billion to the State Budget during FY23. This revenue is applied to schools, hospitals, roads and other State Government priorities. Whitehaven paid or will pay $1.65 billion in taxes and royalties to governments for FY23, highlighting our value to the national economy.

The Australian Government’s reformed Safeguard Mechanism took effect on 1 July 2023, setting declining greenhouse gas emissions (emissions) intensity baselines for facilities captured under the scheme. This includes our Maules Creek and Narrabri mines.

Despite Whitehaven’s advocacy efforts, the adopted scheme does not acknowledge the distinct differences between open cut and underground coal mine emissions profiles. It therefore places a disproportionate emissions intensity reduction obligation on our Narrabri underground mine.

We have set an overall Scope 1 emissions intensity reduction target that aligns with our obligations under the Safeguard Mechanism.

We also continue to offset our Scope 2 emissions by purchasing Climate Active–certified carbon neutral electricity, and commenced the development application process for a solar farm to reduce our Narrabri Mine’s use of electricity from the grid.

We recognise the need to take sensible steps to reduce our operational carbon footprint where technically and economically feasible. Our decarbonisation roadmap outlines our current initiatives and the potential future abatement initiatives we are considering, with multiple investigations currently underway. We also continue to invest in emerging technology solutions. However, with feasible technology solutions not yet available to abate the majority of our emissions, we expect carbon offsets to form a large part of the solution for now. I invite you to find out more here.


In FY23, we reported zero environmental enforcement actions, which compares favourably with four in the prior year. This reflects our focused investment in strengthening our environmental systems, processes, capacity and infrastructure over the past several years. We recognise there is more work to be done, and this will remain an ongoing area of focus to ensure the positive trend continues.


This year represented a record financial performance for the business. This performance delivered significant value for our stakeholders and, importantly, it enabled us to maintain our long-term investment in the local communities in which we operate.

We invested about $560 million in regional communities via salaries and wages, procurement, and community investments. With about 75% of our workforce living in the towns around our operational footprint, the benefits of this investment are felt locally. We are proud of the role we play in supporting our local communities.

We contributed $4.35 million to local community causes and initiatives through the year across a range of diverse areas, including health, education, sport, flood relief and nature conservation.

Pleasingly, our efforts in this space are being recognised in the local communities to which support is oriented. Our seventh wave of community research since 2014 shows a continuing trend of improving sentiment towards the company and that, in 2023, positivity was at its highest level since surveying began.

Thank you

Importantly, I would like to sincerely thank our people for their hard work and contributions over the past 12 months. Together, they made Whitehaven a better, stronger and more sustainable company, delivering value right through our value chain.

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