POLICE charged more than 100 people following a protest that disrupted operations at the Port of Newcastle over the weekend.

Around 1500 people attended the protest, according to climate activist group Rising Tide, as part of a blockade targeting coal exports.

Three hundred of those people took to the shipping channel, many in plastic kayaks.

The protest began at 1000 on Saturday morning, initially with permission from NSW Police, but that permission expired at 1600 on Sunday as planned protest activity exceeded the scheduled 30 hours.

“Police will allege in court that a number of protesters purposely entered the harbour channel after this time despite appropriate warnings and directions by police,” NSW Police said in a statement.

“Subsequently, 109 people – including 49 males, 60 females, five of which were juveniles – were arrested.

“Of those arrested, 18 people were taken to Newcastle, Waratah and Toronto Police Stations and 86 people were taken to a nearby port facility.

“They were all issued court attendance notices for operate vessel so as to interfere with others use of waters.”

Two men were refused bail to appear at Newcastle Local Court on 27 November while the remainder are due to appear on 11 January 2024. The five juveniles were released and will be dealt with under the Young Offenders Act.

A Port of Newcastle spokesperson said operations at the port were back to normal as of Monday morning (27 November).

“Following protest action within the shipping channel over the weekend, vessel movements have now resumed,” they said.

NSW Minerals Council chief executive Stephen Galilee said New South Wales coal exports made up “a very small component” of global coal supply.

He said coal exports through Port of Newcastle represented less than 2% of the global supply last year, but that the commodity is a major contributor to the NSW economy.

“Coal exports represent NSW’s most valuable exports by far, and are worth more than $70 billion nationally,” he said in a statement ahead of the protest.

“Disrupting coal exports through the Port of Newcastle will have no impact on global coal demand or supply. However, it will potentially cause significant economic damage to NSW.

“Everyone has the right to protest. However, it should be done legally and safely.”

Rising Tide organiser and spokesperson Alexa Stuart said “the people will use civil disobedience” unless the government takes action on climate change.

“We wish we did not have to do this, but the Albanese government needs to understand we are serious,” she said.

“Until the Albanese government says no to new coal projects and agrees to tax coal export profits at 75% to fund the transition, we will continue to disrupt the fossil fuel industry – because the climate crisis is impacting us all.”

Queensland coal miner Grant Howard, who participated in the protest, said the transition away from coal “has already started” and he wants coal miners to be part of the conversation.

“I support Rising Tide’s call for a tax on coal exports to fund the transition away from polluting fuels for good,” he said.

“This is an opportunity for coal companies to materially support the communities that have helped make their massive profits, before they wind down.”