Protesters have blocked roads into a controversial NSW mine site but the company says they will not stop the project going ahead.

A coal company developing a new mine in northern NSW says protesters blocking access roads are a “nuisance” but will not stop the project going ahead.

More than 120 people on Tuesday morning blockaded entries to Whitehaven Coal’s $767 million Maules Creek project, near Boggabri, and attached themselves to bulldozers.

Protesters said just before midday that one of their group had been arrested by police.

“We need to remain here to stop Whitehaven and their contractors getting access to the forest to clear it,” spokeswoman Georgina Woods told AAP.

Clearing the forest for a road and railway line to service the open-cut coal mine would destroy valuable forest, animal habitat and Aboriginal sites, she said.

Australian Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, who is at the protest, said federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt needed to act and withdraw his approval of the Maules Creek mine.

“No environment minister should have approved this level of habitat removal for any project let alone a coal mine with all the other associated problems,” Senator Rhiannon said.

Protesters said they had stopped construction work at the mine but it’s understood workers for the principal contractor, Leighton Contractors, were on a rostered day off on Tuesday.

A Whitehaven Coal spokesman said the protests had not stopped plant work at the mine despite protesters’ claims.

“Protests are a nuisance, mostly for the police, but they will not deter Whitehaven from getting on with building Maules Creek and delivering substantial benefits to the region,” he said.

The company spokesman said protesters should respect the fact that the mine was an approved project that had passed the highest environmental approval standards.

Protesters should also honour commitments made under the Brigalow and Nandewar Community Conservation Act which zoned the Laird State Forest for forestry and mining, he said.