The company was responding to claims by federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce that the mine was responsible for a 15m draw-down in groundwater resources on some neighbouring farms.
Whitehaven Coal said its “own monitoring suggests that the onset of drought conditions in 2012, and rainfall recharge not keeping pace with groundwater extraction for surrounding uses not related to mining, are the major factors implicated in declining water levels”, according to a report in the Northern Daily Leader.
“Groundwater seepage into mine pits is a normal and anticipated aspect of open-cut mining operations,” the spokesman said.
“This is why the Werris Creek mine has a water access licence allowing for the interception of up to 211 megalitres of groundwater per year.
“The mine is well within this approved limit and is using less than half of its quota.”