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Coal Mine Rehabilitation in Victoria

Coal mining in Victoria is regulated under the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990. Earth Resources Regulation (ERR) within the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources is responsible for administering the Act.

The Act establishes a legal framework to ensure that land which has been mined is rehabilitated.

What obligations apply to Mining Licence Holders in regards to rehabilitation of a mine?

The Act requires a licence holder to rehabilitate land in accordance with an approved rehabilitation plan.

A rehabilitation plan must include:

  1. concepts for the final end use of the mine site
  2. proposals for the progressive rehabilitation, stabilisation and revegetation of the mine site and other land affected by the operations
  3. proposals for landscaping to minimise visual impact of the mine site
  4. proposals for the final rehabilitation and closure of the site, including the removal of plant and equipment and security of the site.

The rehabilitation plan must also take into account any special characteristics of the land, the surrounding environment, the need to stabilise the land, the desirability of returning agricultural land to a state that is as close as is reasonably possible to its state before the mining licence was granted, and any potential long term degradation of the environment.

For example, following its closure announcement, ENGIE is now required to submit a final rehabilitation plan in accordance with the above. Earth Resources Regulation are currently working with ENGIE on the development of the plan.

What is the Government doing to ensure satisfactory rehabilitation outcomes for the Latrobe Valley community?

The Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources is working with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning to prepare a Regional Rehabilitation Strategy to guide rehabilitation planning for the Latrobe Valley's three brown coal mines and address some of the knowledge gaps highlighted by the Board of Inquiry in Volume IV of its report of findings from the 2015-2016 Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry. 

The Regional Rehabilitation Strategy is a key element of the Government's response to the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry's recommendations (Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry: Victorian Government Implementation Plan June 2016).

The Victorian Government has committed $12.6 million over four years to develop the Regional Rehabilitation Strategy.

The objective of the Strategy is to set a safe, stable and sustainable landform for the Latrobe Valley coal mine voids and surrounding areas. The strategy will be informed by a range of technical studies that will be undertaken over the next several years and designed to address the knowledge gaps highlighted by the Board of Inquiry. 

The project plan to deliver the Strategy is currently under development and due to be finalised in early 2017.

Will there be an opportunity for the community to get involved during the preparation of the Regional Rehabilitation Strategy?

Community and stakeholder engagement is a key element in the preparation of the Regional Rehabilitation Strategy.

The Latrobe Valley Mine Rehabilitation Advisory Committee includes representatives from the Latrobe Valley community.

The Victorian Government has also established the office of the Latrobe Valley Mine Rehabilitation Commissioner, and appointed Professor Rae Mackay to the position in June 2017.

Both the Advisory Committee and the Commissioner will provide important mechanisms for community involvement and engagement during the life of the Regional Rehabilitation Strategy project.

Learn more about the Latrobe Valley Authority.