Blair Athol rehab will take six years following closure

Rio Tinto will need at least six years to fully clean up and rehabilitate its massive Blair Athol open cut coal mine following its closure.

Earlier this month the miner announced it would officially close the coal mine by the end of the year.

It closes after nearly 30 years of production, with Clermont region general manager operations Dawid Pretorius explaining that the mine has been progressively scaling down since 2010.

"After close to three decades, Blair Athol Mine’s coal seams are largely mined out and the time has come to finish production," Pretorius said. 

"Since 2005, Rio Tinto had planned to close the mine at the end of this year and consulted with its community consultative committee and workforce.

"However, as coal prices rose in recent times we looked to extend the life of the mine by mining a poorer quality coal and harder to reach seam for a few more years; unfortunately the recent significant drop in thermal coal prices and other factors such as rising costs and the foreign exchange rate mean this is no longer a feasible option and we will keep to the original plan to finish production in 2012."

While Rio has not announced a definite closure date the miner expects it will before December.

For Rio to get its $84 million bond back it will need to spend more than five years repairing the site, the Daily Mercury reports.

So far the miner is yet to formulate a plan for remediation, with Queensland environment minister Andrew Powell stating that he is yet to speak to Rio, but is confident of Blair Athol's rehabilitation. 

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