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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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