In a massive win for Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) clients, Traditional Owners and farmers, the Shenhua coal mine proposal in north west New South Wales has been cancelled.

The NSW Government has today announced it will pay the mine’s Chinese owner to withdraw its mining lease application and surrender its development consent.  

The Shenhua Watermark coal mine was a huge $1.2 billion project proposed for the Liverpool Plains.  

The controversial project saw massive opposition from local people, including landholders – who feared the mine’s impact on an area renowned for its fertile, food-growing soil – and the Gomeroi Traditional Custodians fighting to protect the area’s cultural sites.

EDO has stood with the Liverpool Plains community for many years, providing advice and running litigation against the proposal as it made its way through various stages of approval, including: 

  • EDO acted for Upper Mooki Landcare in a case against the NSW Planning Assessment Commission, arguing that it had failed to properly consider whether the mine was likely to significantly affect koalas as required by law.  
  • EDO acted for Lock the Gate in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal in relation to a freedom of information request for documents, arguing the public has a right to know about how public money was spent in relation to the Shenhua Watermark mine. 
  • EDO acted for Veronica “Dolly” Talbott, as a member of the Gomeroi Traditional Custodians, in a challenge under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 (Cth)  to the lawfulness of the Environment Minister’s decision not to grant protection to several Significant Areas of Aboriginal cultural heritage on the Liverpool Plains. 

EDO Managing Lawyer Rana Koroglu said: 

“We could not be more delighted for our clients, including the Gomeroi Traditional Custodians and the Liverpool Plains community, as they see the end of this inappropriate and potentially devastating coal mine proposal. 

“This is also a win for current and future generations who need to live in a safe climate. 

“EDO has challenged this mine throughout its approval process and represented a wide variety of clients in this matter – demonstrating the extent to which this was the wrong proposal, in the wrong place, at the wrong time. 

“The EDO wants to see NSW and Federal laws strengthened so that the voices of the community, and First Nations peoples in particular, are heard loud and clear up front before destructive proposals like this are even allowed to proceed to the assessment stage. 

“This is a mine that should never have made it past the first hurdle.” 


Across Australia, communities like this are on the front line, defending their homes and our future against mining giants. 

You can help them by donating to our Environmental Defence Fund.