The report into options for rehabilitating Latrobe Valley coal mines and the rehabilitation bond system was today tabled in Parliament.
It is the final of four reports of the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry, which the Andrews Labor Government reopened last year to get to the bottom of community health, safety and environmental concerns that were ignored by the former Coalition Government. The Inquiry Board found:
- The current rehabilitation bond system is ineffective and recommends an interim increase to existing bonds while a more effective bond system is developed
- The current regulatory system lacks transparency and clarity
- Concerns about mine stability, sourcing water and water quality under current rehabilitation plans to create lakes in the open pits
The Labor Government welcomes the report findings and has already taken a number of actions, including:
- Requirements for mine operators to carry out risk assessments to reduce the risk of fires in coal mines
- The establishment of a Mine Fire Safety Unit in Traralgon
- Introducing annual public reporting on rehabilitation in Victoria’s coal mines
- Expanding the Technical Review Board to include a rehabilitation expert
- Launching a $2.2 million research project into mine stability and rehabilitation in the Latrobe Valley
- Reforming Victoria’s mining regulator, Earth Resources Regulation, to ensure it is transparent and provides clarity to the community and industry
The re-opened Inquiry has previously reported on whether the Hazelwood Mine Fire contributed to an increase in deaths in the Latrobe Valley, and health improvement measures for the Latrobe Valley community.
The Government will continue to work closely with the Latrobe Valley community and industry to progress implementation of all of the 2014 Inquiry recommendations, and will provide a formal, whole-of-Government response to the Inquiry reports shortly.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Energy and Resources Lily D’Ambrosio
“The former Coalition Government abandoned the Latrobe Valley community. We’ve listened and have already taken action to strengthen risk management at the Latrobe Valley Coal Mines, establish a Mine Fire Safety Unit and reform Victoria’s mining regulator.”
Quotes attributable to Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water Lisa Neville
“I'm determined to resolve the outstanding issues regarding the availability of water for the mines at end of mine life.”
Quotes attributable to Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing
“This report is another significant step forward for the Valley and like everyone else in Gippsland I’m looking forward to the implementation of the Inquiry’s recommendations.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020