More than 80 people have protested against Whitehaven Coal's new $767m Maules Creek coal project in New South Wales (NSW), following the Federal Court's approval.
Some protesters have been arrested on charges of hindering the work of mining equipment, and entering and remaining on enclosed lands.
Australia-based Whitehaven Coal secured the final approval to begin the construction of its new Maules Creek coal project in July 2013.
The project is located in Gunnedah Basin in the north-west part of NSW, and production is expected to start in the second half of the year.
Maules Creek has an estimated 320 million tonnes of semi-soft coking coal and thermal coal and is considered to be one of the few remaining tier one undeveloped coal assets in Australia.
The company claimed that the Maules Creek project has a large reserve of high-quality coal, a low stripping ratio of 6.4:1 and would require relatively low capital development costs.
During the construction phase, the project is expected to employ around 340 full-time employees and contractors, while an additional 470 people will be hired during on-going operations.
Whitehaven Coal operates a portfolio of mines including the Narrabri North mine project in Australia.
The Federal Minister for the Environment's final approval was challenged by the Northern Inland Council for the Environment under the Federal Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act), but the court ruled that the approval was valid.
Image: Production at the Maules Creek project is expected to begin by the second half of the year. Photo: courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.