Latrobe Valley coal mines

For much of the last 100 years the Latrobe Valley coal mines provided the adjoining power stations with the raw material to generate most of the state’s electricity. Victoria’s energy transition is now underway to move away from coal to use more renewable sources.

The Hazelwood Brown Coal Mine closed in 2017 after over 60 years of operation. Over the subsequent years, ENGIE, the owner and operator of the mine has begun works to decommission infrastructure and rehabilitate the site.

In 2021, Energy Australia announced that it will cease electricity production at Yallourn in 2028.

The Loy Yang coal mine is licenced to continue production to 2048.

Recent activities

Flooding in June 2021 led to the identification of damage to the Morwell River Diversion (MRD) channel at the Yallourn coal mine. Remediation works on the MRD requires draining of the damaged section of the channel. To do this, works are being undertaken that will be able to redirect typical river flows around the damaged section of the MRD, but excessive flows and flooding would be a risk to the integrity of the MRD, temporary works, and the Yallourn mine.

Works at Yallourn

While temporary repairs have been made to shore up the MRD and protect the mine, the MRD needs to be dewatered so that an assessment of the damage can take place to determine what additional repairs may be needed.

The Victorian Government approved Energy Australia’s proposal to dewater the MRD, enabling engineers to undertake necessary investigations and repairs. Concurrently, ENGIE has undertaken works to ensure the Hazelwood mine pit can accept excess floodwaters in the event of an extensive flooding emergency only.

Construction and repairs are estimated to take up to 18 months to complete. The Government is closely monitoring EnergyAustralia’s repair works to ensure that the local community, water entitlement holders and the environment are protected. The Government is not financially contributing to the works.

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change media release 30 June 2021: Protecting Victoria’s Energy Security and Yallourn Mine

Hazelwood mine pit and potential floodwater receival

Upstream of the MRD, works will provide an option to potentially divert floodwaters into the Hazelwood mine void. These works are currently underway at Hazelwood for this purpose. Earth Resources Regulation is supporting the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, which is the lead agency for the MRD incident response.

Rainfall and some groundwater is now staying in the Hazelwood mine pit. This will help cover the coal face and reduce the fire risk over summer. These actions will have no bearing on the final rehabilitation outcome for the Hazelwood mine.

In August 2021, Earth Resources Regulation approved a variation to the Mining Licence for the Hazelwood Mine. The variation imposed conditions requiring ENGIE to:

  • control the risks associated with receiving floodwaters from the Morwell River into the mine void, including capping groundwater bores in the mine floor,
  • verifying the performance of new bores around the outside of the mine void,
  • undertaking additional earthworks to protect the stability of the mine’s northern batters near the Princes Freeway, and
  • prepare an adaptive geotechnical monitoring, assessment and management program.

This does not pre-empt regulatory approvals for the longer-term rehabilitation of mine sites.

Hazelwood EES referral

Following Engie’s submission of a referral under the Environment Effects Act 1978 in late 2021, the Minister for Planning has now determined that the Engie’s proposed mine rehabilitation and closure works for the Hazelwood coal mine require assessment through a full Environmental Effects Statement (EES) process. ENGIE has included their preferred concept for a full pit lake as their proposed rehabilitation method in the EES referral documentation.

Earth Resources Regulation required ENGIE to refer its proposed works for the final rehabilitation of the mine to the Minister for Planning and they did this in November 2021.

Page last updated: 10 Mar 2022