Whitehaven groundwater investigation

Farmers bores run dry

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WATCHDOG: NRAR is investigating the mine's groundwater use.

WATCHDOG: NRAR is investigating the mine's groundwater use.

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Whitehaven coal mine is denying its operations have led to groundwater drawdown.

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THE state's water watchdog is again investigating the water use of Whitehaven Coal's Maules Creek mine, this time focusing on its groundwater use.

The Natural Resource Access Regulator (NRAR) is looking into the mine, following complaints from nearby farmers who claim the mine's excessive groundwater use has led to their bores running dry.

Whitehaven rejected any suggestion its use or management of water had "contributed to groundwater drawdowns in the area in any way that has negatively affected local farmers and irrigators".

"There is no credible hydrogeological evidence indicating that bore drawdowns in the Maules Creek area are the result of anything other than the combination of lack of rainfall and inadequate aquifer recharge for some bores," a company spokesperson said.

"The severity of the drought is putting pressure on all local water users including farms, towns and the mining sector.

"To suggest Whitehaven is immune from, or is somehow responsible for these conditions, is nonsensical."

In September, NRAR alleged Whitehaven Coal was taking more surface water than it was legally entitled to at its Maules Creek mine, after an investigation that lasted more than a year.

The watchdog is understood to be seeking advice on any potential civil or criminal proceedings.

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