Cleaning up coal mines

The environmental impacts of coal mining don’t end when the digging stops.

As we transition to a world powered by energy from the wind and sun, coal mines across the continent will close. Some already are – like Victoria's Hazelwood coal mine.

Coal mining leaves behind giant mine pits filled with toxic coal ash and waste – and mine operators must be responsible for cleaning up their mess.

But all too often, mine operators try to set their own standards for mine rehabilitation, cut corners and dodge their responsibilities.

Getting Hazelwood rehab right

When the Hazelwood coal mine closed in 2017, it left behind a giant hole and tonnes of toxic coal ash.

Six years after Hazelwood closed the mine's operator, French-owned company Engie, is still working on plans to rehabilitate the mine site.

We have serious concerns that Engie wants to dodge its responsibility and cut corners on properly rehabilitating Hazelwood.

Engie plans to flood the mine pit – full of toxic coal ash – with freshwater taken from the Latrobe River, without removing the toxic coal ash.

Flooding the mine would take almost two decades and will use more water than is in Sydney Harbour – 638 billion litres – plus another five to 10 billion litres every year just to offset the evaporation.

Our work

A toxic pit lake at Hazelwood

Six years after Hazelwood closed, the mine's operator Engie is still working out how to rehabilitate the massive mine site.

We're working with the community to closely scrutinise all rehab plans at Hazelwood. We're pushing for the best outcomes, and a good precedent for mine rehab across the country.


Latrobe Valley Regional Rehabilitation Strategy

All of the coal mines and power stations in the Latrobe Valley are scheduled to close in the next decade, leaving behind toxic mine sites to clean up.

We're working with decision makers and the community to make sure there are solid, detailed plans to clean up the Valley.

Debunking coal-to-hydrogen

Coal pollutes our air and water and damages our climate – no matter how it's used. Coal-to-hydrogen is a marketing ploy that corporations roll out, hoping to delay the transition to renewable energy.

We're exposing and challenging coal-to-hydrogen greenwash so it doesn't derail genuine climate solutions.

"We can't let this multinational company threaten farmland, fishing and tourism from the Latrobe Valley right down to the Gippsland Lakes. 

Flooding the mine will take more water than Sydney Harbour – but let's be clear, we won't get Harbour views or a water playground.

Experts say the coal ash pollution will be so bad that the water won't be safe to touch within 50 years.  

All we're asking for is a proper clean-up plan that protects our community and our river system."

— Tracey Anton, Friends of Latrobe Water

The latest