The Victorian Parliament has established the Latrobe Valley-based Mine Land Rehabilitation Authority and Post Closure Fund, which will make rehabilitation for the area’s coal mines stronger and more transparent.
The Mine Land Rehabilitation Authority will monitor, maintain and manage ‘declared’ mine land. It also clarifies rehabilitation, closure and post-closure obligations.
The Post-Closure Fund will meet the ongoing costs of managing declared mine land and allow mines to safely and responsibly relinquish land.
These actions are part of the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Amendment Bill 2019 in response to recommendations from the Hazelwood mine fire enquiry.
Minister for resources Jaclyn Symes said the new act gave communities confidence about the future of their region.
He believes it provides certainty to industry on their responsibility to properly and safely rehabilitate former mines now and into the future post-mining.
“The mining industry contributes billions of dollars to the Victorian economy and employs thousands of people– we’re making sure rehabilitated landscapes are safe and nearby communities can benefit from the land,” Symes said.
The Authority will replace and succeed the Latrobe Valley Mine Rehabilitation Commissioner, who has been monitoring mine rehabilitation since May 2017, in time for the completion of the Latrobe Valley Regional Rehabilitation Strategy in June 2020.
It will be based at the Latrobe Valley’s new GovHub – putting local rehabilitation jobs in the Latrobe Valley.
The Bill also extends the term of prospecting licences from five to seven years, recognising the time taken to gain necessary approvals for prospecting activities.
Minerals Council of Australia executive director James Sorahan said land rehabilitation was fundamental to responsible modern mining.
“Victoria’s minerals industry recognises its responsibility as a temporary custodian of land and seeks to ensure that mine land can support future economic, conservation and community activities as appropriate for a particular area,” Sorahan said.
“Mining’s approach to mined land rehabilitation has improved significantly and the industry continues to improve rehabilitation methods and research, including through progressive rehabilitation.”