Latrobe Valley Coal Mines
Modernising Coal Mine Regulation in Victoria
The Board of Inquiry established on 21 March 2014 to inquire into, and report on, a range of issues associated with the Hazelwood mine fire made a range of recommendations to improve the regulation of coal mines in Victoria.
The Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, (DEDJTR) regulates the mineral, petroleum, greenhouse gas geological storage, extractive and geothermal industries in Victoria. The department shares responsibility with Energy Safe Victoria in oversight of the pipeline industry.
DEDJTR is responsible for ensuring that these industries comply with relevant regulations by setting licence conditions and ensuring compliance through a range of enforcement activities.
DEDJTR responsibilities include ensuring that the Latrobe Valley open cut brown coal mines comply with established licence conditions. The mines form a substantial part of the workload of the DEDJTR's Gippsland office which includes audits, inspections, response to community complaints and supporting the work of the Environmental Review Committees associated with all three mines.
The department has developed responses to recommendation 4 from the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry:
- Bring forward the commencement date of s. 16 of the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Amendment Act 2014 (Vic), to facilitate the requirement that approved work plans specifically address fire prevention, mitigation and suppression; and
- Acquire the expertise necessary to monitor and enforce compliance with fire risk measures adopted by the Victorian coal mining industry under both the mine licensing and occupational health and safety regimes.
On 23 January 2015, in response to the recommendation, the Victorian Government announced that it would bring forward requirements for mine operators to carry out risk assessments and put in place plans to address fire risks.
Fire preparedness at the three major coal mines in the Latrobe Valley will be strengthened, and they will be required to prepare a risk assessment and implement a management plan ahead of the 2015/16 bushfire season. The mines will be required to regularly review the assessments and plans and improve them over time.
DEDJTR has also moved to identify and secure appropriate expertise to build the Branch's ability to regulate mine fire safety of the large open cut mines.
Reopened Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry
The Victorian Government released its Implementation Plan on 21 June 2016 which outlines the Government's response to the 2014 and 2015/16 Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry reports, that together made 44 recommendations and 44 affirmations to the State.