Faster rehabilitation of Latrobe Valley coal mines could employ hundreds of people for 20 years, generate more than $420 million of direct spending and slash the risk of fires, according to a report produced by Environment Victoria.
It calls for an urgent acceleration of rehabilitation efforts in "worked out" areas of the coal mines and urges the government to consider imposing bigger rehabilitation bonds and royalty payments on mine operators.
It says that, although rehabilitation works are a condition of mining licences, they are "not happening with sufficient urgency. These delays leave the community exposed to fire and health risks and the broader public exposed to the ongoing financial and environmental risks. Existing rehabilitation bonds for all Victorian coal mines are too low to provide sufficient incentive for mine operators to fulfil their obligations, and the Victorian government has exerted no regulatory pressure to accelerate rehabilitation."