Victorian coal mines

Cleaning up coal

for good

Properly rehabilitating these mines is a significant opportunity for the region – creating good local jobs, diverse and resilient economic opportunities, connecting communities, restoring the land, improving biodiversity and creating vibrant places the whole community can enjoy.

Manage this wrong and mining companies will cut and run, leaving the community to deal with a toxic legacy of degraded and contaminated landscapes, perpetually hazardous environmental risks and serious ongoing health problems.

Before disused coal mines can be transformed into areas with community and environmental benefits, the companies that own them must undertake thorough rehabilitation, restoration and active management - long after the mines have closed.

Massive open cut mines across Victoria's Latrobe Valley needs rehabilitation over the next two decades.

Right now, coal mine operators are required to convert the former mine site to a physically safe, stable and sustainable condition, but rehabilitation plans must also consider community views expressed during consultation.

That's why it's critical the community has a say in how all mines are rehabilitated to create the best possible social, environmental and economic outcomes for the local community.

Long-term benefits for people and nature

Cleaning up needs to include rights for Traditional Custodians to care for Country, restoring damaged ecosystems back to health, and ensuring what comes next benefits Latrobe Valley communities for the long-term.

Accountability for mining companies

Mining companies have dominated the Latrobe Valley for generations and taken record profits. They must be held accountable for cleaning up, so the community is not left with the clean up bill.

Strong legal frameworks for rehabilitation

To manage this process, the Victorian government and regulators must create a strong, enforceable legal framework for rehabilitation, with serious penalties for non-compliance.

A simple map of three Latrobe Valley mines in Victoria. The three mines are indicated with maroon markers: Yallourn, Loy Yang and Hazelwood.

Coal mines in the
Latrobe Valley

Rehabilitation plans are underway for all three brown coal mines in the Latrobe Valley, including plans to flood the mine voids with water from the Latrobe River system.

Community groups have already successfully increased scrutiny and requirements for consultation on coal mine operators' rehabilitation plans.

But there are still many unknowns, and the stakes are high. Mine rehabilitation in the Latrobe Valley will impact the community for decades to come - and could shape how mines across the continent are cleaned up.

Explore the map to learn more about each mine

Hazelwood

Operator: Engie Australia and New Zealand – a French multinational utility company

Closure:  2017, Hazelwood coal mine operated from 1949 to 2017.

Mine void: 18-kilometres perimeter, 3.5 kilometres wide and up to 135 metres deep

Estimated cost of rehabilitation: Engie estimates the total rehabilitation will cost $743 million. Engie’s current rehabilitation bond is $289 million – less than half the estimated total cost of rehabilitation.

What are the current rehabilitation plans?

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.

Engie currently plans to fill the mind void with water to create a full pit lake 45m above sea level. Their plans – including the potential water source for filling the lake – is currently undergoing an Environmental Effects Assessment in Victoria.

Learn more about Hazelwood

Yallourn

Operator: Energy Australia

Supplies coal to: Yallourn Coal Power Station

Expected closure: Mid-2028

Mine void: 18 kilometre perimeter, 3.5 kilometres wide and up to 135 metres deep.

What are the current rehabilitation plans?

Yallourn’s current rehabilitation plan is a full pit lake interconnected with the Morwell River, which is currently diverted through the centre of the mine, via an aqueduct on an earth embankment. 

Learn more about Yallourn

Loy Yang

Operator: AGL Energy Limited

Supplies coal to: Loy Yang A and Loy Yang B Power Stations.

Expected closure: 2035, to align with expected closure of Loy Yang A Power Station.

Mine void: Loy Yang’s mine void covers an area of 1200ha. Its depth is 200 metres and length more than five kilometres.

What are the current rehabilitation plans?

AGL is proposing that Loy Yang mine be turned into a pit lake with a final height yet to be determined 

Estimated cost of rehabilitation: AGL have estimate $307 million for the estimated costs of rehabilitation, based upon returning sites to as near to pre-development condition as practicable.

Learn more about Loy Yang

Hazelwood

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

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

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

Their plans – including the potential water source for filling the lake – is currently undergoing the Environment Effects Statement process in Victoria and is being scrutinised by the Federal Government (under the ‘water trigger’ process in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act)).

Under the EPBC Act the Federal Minister for the Environment can refuse approval of the rehabilitation plans or grant approval and with conditions. Whereas, under the Environment Effects Statement process following public consultation and a (likely) public hearing the Minister for Planning will prepare an assessment of impacts of the rehabilitation plans which will be considered when the Victorian government determines whether to approve the rehabilitation plan and grant any required permissions.

Read more about getting Hazelwood rehab right.

It will take an estimated 637 gigalitres of water to fill the Hazelwood mine void.

Engie claims it will take 10-20 years to fill the mine, but in a worst-case scenario it could take up to 35 years.

Engie wants to use a range of available water resources, using groundwater, surface water and any other approved water sources. Engie plans to use about 50% of its water fill with groundwater.

The Hazelwood mine void sits above a ground water source. Engie says it plans to pump groundwater for decades to fill the mine void.

Engie has an existing commercial agreement with Gippsland Water for access to surface water that would allow surface water to also be used for the fill process.

Engie has also said that it is exploring the potential of gaining water through some excess flood flows from the Morwell River. The impacts of using these water sources are being assessed under the EES.

  • Complete draining and rehabilitation of the cooling pond (a human-made lake supporting power station and mine operations) to be suitable for alternative uses.
  • Rehabilitate the land to be suitable for alternative uses, dependent on a range of factors, including contamination, land stability and locations etc.
  • Explore ownership and use of currently leased land

Loy Yang

Loy Yang coal mine is Australia's largest brown coal mine, supplying coal to both Loy Yang Power Stations.

Yallourn

Yallourn is the oldest and shallowest of the three coal mines to be rehabilitated.

Unlike the other two mines, the Morwell River is diverted through the centre of the mine site via an aqueduct.