The rehabilitation of the Latrobe Valley’s brown coal mines will from today be steered by the Mine Land Rehabilitation Authority and the Latrobe Valley Regional Rehabilitation Strategy (LVRRS).
The new body will ensure locals continue to be informed and involved in mine rehabilitation. It will oversee the implementation of the LVRRS and contribute to safe, stable and sustainable rehabilitation solutions.
The LVRRS provides a blueprint to progress planning for rehabilitation of the region’s coal mines, based on learnings from geotechnical and water studies. It sets out actions to address issues around mine safety and stability, providing mine licensees with further clarity on the available rehabilitation options.
Rehabilitation planning must consider a drying climate and alternative options to relying only on water from the Latrobe River system, protecting existing water entitlement rights of existing users including farmers, communities and the environment.
Environment Victoria Campaigns Manager Dr Nicholas Aberle welcomes the authority and said getting mine rehabilitation right in the Latrobe Valley is an essential part of ensuring the region has a prosperous future beyond coal.
“Five years ago during the second Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry, Environment Victoria was the sole voice calling for an independent authority to oversee mine rehabilitation.”
But from today, Dr Aberle said, the independent authority will try to solve this very significant regional challenge.
“The Latrobe Valley Regional Rehabilitation Strategy establishes two very important key principles: that a drying climate will have major impacts on any proposal to fill the pits with water; and that any use of water for creating pit lakes cannot come at the expense of other existing water users or the environment.
“Climate projections suggest that within two decades, there simply may not be enough water available to sustain the health of the river system and to meet the needs of existing water users in the region, let alone supply water to three giant mines, which may need to be filled up with water at the same time.”
“There’s a real chance AGL or EnergyAustralia will need to look at alternative sources of water, like desalination, if a pit lake is their preferred option and the Authority is serious about protecting the environment and other water users.