New legislation now passed in the Victorian Parliament will make rehabilitation for the Latrobe Valley’s coal mines stronger and more transparent, increasing certainty for industry, landowners and local communities.
Responding to recommendations of the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry, the Andrews Labor Government’s Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Amendment Bill 2019 was passed through Parliament last night.
The Bill was prepared after extensive consultation with Latrobe Valley coal mine operators, industry, environment and community stakeholders, the Latrobe Valley Mine Rehabilitation Commissioner and local working and advisory groups.
The new amendments make it clear that closed mines must be rehabilitated to a safe and stable landform. They also guide how landowners will monitor and maintain former mines, and will establish a Latrobe Valley-based Mine Land Rehabilitation Authority and Post Closure Fund.
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.
The new Authority 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, to recognise the time taken to gain necessary approvals for prospecting activities.
Before the Bill comes into effect on 30 June 2020, the Labor Government will appoint the Authority’s Board, which will be based in the Latrobe Valley and led by relevant experts.
The government will consult broadly, including a through a public Regulatory Impact Statement, to assess possible impacts on industry and prepare the Bill’s regulations, policies and procedures.
As noted by Minister for Resources Jaclyn Symes
“The new Act gives communities confidence about the future of their region and 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.”