“Getting mine rehabilitation right in the Latrobe Valley is an essential part of ensuring the region has a prosperous future beyond coal,” Environment Victoria Campaigns Manager Dr Nicholas Aberle said, in response to the state government’s announcement today of the Mine Land Rehabilitation Authority and the Latrobe Valley Regional Rehabilitation Strategy.
“We welcome the creation of the Mine Land Rehabilitation Authority. 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.
“We’re glad the Inquiry and the Andrews government agreed with us that an independent authority is essential in trying to solve this very significant regional challenge.
“The Chair and Board of the Authority now have the very important task of ensuring the community is closely involved in the development of rehabilitation plans at each of the three mines in the Valley.
“Many decades of coal mining have created a problem for which there is no good solution, only less-bad solutions.
“It is the community of the Latrobe Valley who will live with the legacy of these mines. They must have a say in what becomes of them.
“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.
“Given the climate trajectory we are on, I wouldn’t want to be AGL trying to find billions of litres of water to fill Loy Yang in the 2040s or 2050s.
“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.
“Mine operators have profited handsomely from the extraction of coal. It is now their responsibility to ensure they clean up the mess they have profited from making.”
Dr Nicholas Aberle, Environment Victoria Campaign Manager
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