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All the latest news from Energy & Resources Law

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Future Gas Strategy

The Future Gas Strategy was released on 9 May. Gas continues to be important to Australia through the energy transition with natural gas currently meeting 27% of our energy needs and nearly 20% of export income. The Minister for Resources, Madeleine King, highlights in the document that gas is a transition fuel that is required until renewable alternatives are viable. She also highlights the need for greenhouse gas emissions associated with gas to decline, abated or offset. In line with this the Strategy anticipates that demand for gas may increase until alternative energy sources are available but by 2050 demand is expected to be significantly reduced. 

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Rehabilitation of the Latrobe Valley Coal Mines: Integrating Regulation of Mine Rehabilitaion and Planning for Land and Water Use

Professor Alex Gardner, University of Western Australia Law School
Elda Poletti, Mining Law Consultant
Lauren Downes, Research Associate, University of Western Australia Law School
Laura Hamblin, Research Associate, University of Western Australia Law School

The research presented in this article was supported by CRC TiME. The content of the article is a revised version of a case study undertaken for the project “Mapping the regulatory framework of mine closure”. The support of the Australian Government through the Cooperative Research Centre Program is acknowledged. The article is current to March 2024.

This case study considers the challenges of implementing effective regulatory processes for rehabilitation of open cut coal mines in one of the world’s largest brown coal reserves, the Latrobe Valley, Victoria. The Latrobe Valley coal fired energy industry is experiencing a transition hastened by a serious coal mine fire in 2014 and climate change. The Latrobe Valley mines and their associated power stations either have closed (Hazelwood 2017) or are scheduled to close (Yallourn 2028 and Loy Yang 2035) with final rehabilitation to follow. The case study demonstrates the leading role of the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990 (Vic) in mine rehabilitation regulation. The MRSD Act was significantly reformed in 2019 to introduce important mine rehabilitation reforms and integrate mine rehabilitation regulation with land use and water use planning, all operating in the context of the Climate Change Act 2017 (Vic). The principal integrative instrument is the Latrobe Valley Regional Rehabilitation Strategy (2020, amended in October 2023). We suggest further research to improve the regulatory outcomes.


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Recent environmental cases in Australia

Two recent cases involving environmental actions provide some guidance on how the law and Ministerial decision making can apply.  

Recently two judicial review proceedings were dismissed by the Federal Court. The case was brought by Environmental Justice Australia and has been called the Living Wonders case. The case sought to challenge the Federal Environment Minister’s failure to adequately consider climate change risk when assessing two coal mine expansions under s78 of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.  


New developments in the hydrogen industry

We can expect significant legislative reform for the hydrogen industry in the near future. This follows a review of all Australian laws (both Federal and State) in 2019 that found there were approximately 730 pieces of legislation and 119 standards related to the industry and recent developments that are seeking to develop the industry further.


Amendments to Native Title Act give industry stability

Recent amendments to both the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) and the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (Cth) (CATSI Act) are intended to better resolve Native Title claims and provide stability for industry.

The Native Title Legislation Amendment Act 2020 addresses the problems caused by the McGlade decision as they relate to ‘right to negotiate’ agreements or section 31 agreements.