Environmental campaigners sparked a 9pc dive in the share price of Australian miner Whitehaven Coal after issuing a fake press release regarding a multi-million dollar funding facility.
The miner and its bankers ANZ were forced to deny that the bank had withdrawn A$1.2bn (£784m) of debt that had been earmarked for the development of Maules Creek mine.
The fake press release was issued by Frontline Action for Coal. Spokesman Jonathan Moylan said: “The future of our farmlands, our forests, our health, our climate these are the biggest threats humanity faces and they are far more important than concerns over liability.”
The fall in Whitehaven’s share price wiped A$314m off its stock market valuation and brought a halt to trading in its shares.
The fall will do little to help the plight of Nathan Tinkler, the Australian mining magnate who is currently facing legal action over a slew of allegedly unpaid bills. Mr Tinkler owns a fifth of Whitehaven’s shares.
It is not known whether the campaigning group could be held liable for any losses suffered as a result of its action.
The hoax press release is one of a string to hit the Australian market in recent months, mostly targeted at addressing environment concerns.
Although Whitehaven was the immediate focus of the fake release it seems the campaigners may have been aiming to affect ANZ’s business activities too.
A spokesman for the action group said: “ANZ customers have a right to know that their money is being invested in a project which will force farmers off their land and destroy 1,360 hectares of critically endangered koala habitat.”
“We are determined to continue our campaign on ANZ Bank.”