Latrobe Valley Mine Rehabilitation Commissioner – Sep. 2019

Commissioner talks mine rehabilitation with Boolarra Community Development Group

With Hazelwood closing in 2017, Yallourn ceasing operations in 2032 and Loy Yang in 2048, rehabilitation planning for all three coal mines is underway that will transform the Latrobe Valley we know today.

This was the focus of the Latrobe Valley Mine Rehabilitation Commissioner Professor Rae Mackay’s discussions with a group of members of the Boolarra Community Development Group at their meeting in August, chaired by Latrobe City Councillor Darrell White and attended by Member for Morwell Russell Northe MP.

Mine rehabilitation involves restoring mined land to a final landform that is safe, stable and sustainable, enabling future use.

The responsibility of the mine owners to rehabilitate the land, plans for future land development, materials other than water to fill the mines, and how Hazelwood Pondage fits in with mine rehabilitation planning were some of the questions raised during the meeting.

“The mine owners are power generators essentially, not developers, and their responsibility lies with leaving the land safe and sustainable that can allow for development,” Professor Mackay said.

“It is up to people to encourage development, and I am open to ideas from the community, council and government alike,” he continued.

The Commissioner also explained the reasons, based on geotechnical stability and long-term safety, behind water being the preferred option to fill the mines, which was a recommendation by the 2015-16 Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry.

To fully understand the viability of the pit lakes option, the Latrobe Valley Regional Rehabilitation Strategy is being developed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR), and is tasked to carry out extensive water and land use studies. Professor Mackay, as Commissioner, provides independent advice and recommendations on the Strategy, which is due for completion in June 2020.

Professor Mackay explained that the cost to move and use other fill materials such as overburden was much higher, and that sourcing such materials would be difficult as there is simply not enough available. He also noted that the Hazelwood Pondage is not in the mining lease and is an asset of ENGIE specifically used for power generation, with water from the pondage to be ideally transferred to the new pit lake.

The Commissioner is keen to keep the community informed about mine rehabilitation planning. To share your views and to find out more, or if you’re a member of a community group and would like the Commissioner to attend a group meeting, please contact the Commissioner’s Traralgon office on 1800 571 966 or email commissioner@lvmrc.vic.gov.au.

Professor Rae Mackay and his team would like to sincerely thank the Boolarra Community Development Group for hosting them.