30 June 2021 update on the LVRRS implementation:
Since the Strategy’s launch on 26 June 2020, the Victorian Government has undertaken further studies to support mine rehabilitation planning in the Latrobe Valley. As outlined in the LVRRS, we have collaborated with mine licensees and other stakeholders to explore the following issues:
- potential water sources and access arrangements for mine licensees to undertake rehabilitation, while protecting existing uses and values of the Latrobe River system, under a range of possible climate scenarios
- climate resilient water sources that could create the certainty that a safe and stable mine rehabilitation can be achieved over the longer-term
- less water intensive rehabilitation options, and contingency options for water-based rehabilitation plans.
In coming months, the LVRRS project team will consult and communicate on the draft findings of these studies.
The LVRRS provides guidance to the mine licensees, government, the community and other key stakeholders on issues that need to be considered in planning for and undertaking rehabilitation of the Latrobe Valley’s three brown coal mines—Hazelwood, Yallourn and Loy Yang.
The LVRRS is clear that mine rehabilitation must plan for a drying climate and that the rights of existing water users—including farmers, towns, industry and the environment—will be fully protected during any rehabilitation process.
Rehabilitation options will be considered that do not rely on water from the Latrobe River system. To that end, the Government will further explore alternate water options for mine rehabilitation, such as recycled water or desalinated water, and identify non-water-based options to manage land stability and fire risks if sufficient water is not available.
Read the LVRRS essentials to learn more about the LVRRS, learn about the Latrobe Valley’s water resources, or click through on the tiles below for more detailed information about the strategy and its partners.
The Victorian Government is committed to progressing mine rehabilitation planning in the Latrobe Valley. The Latrobe Valley Regional Rehabilitation Strategy (LVRRS) will guide the mine licensees, government and the community on a climate resilient transformation of the Latrobe Valley coal mines (Hazelwood, Yallourn and Loy Yang) and adjacent lands to safe, stable and sustainable landforms that will support the next land use.
The LVRRS sets a clear pathway for us to continue to collaborate with mine licensees, other entitlement holders, stakeholders and the community and to partner with Traditional Owners, the Gunaikurnai people, to ensure any water used for mine rehabilitation is considers in the context of the regions social, economic, environmental and cultural values.
The future of the region’s mines will have lasting implications for the Latrobe Valley and broader community.
With Hazelwood ceasing operations in 2017 and Yallourn and Loy Yang expected to do so in the future, careful consideration and planning for mine rehabilitation needs to be undertaken now to ensure a positive, post-mining legacy for the Latrobe Valley.
Through the LVRRS, the Victorian Government is taking a coordinated, regional approach to mine rehabilitation planning that will improve our understanding of regional scale mine rehabilitation issues and risks and how these can be addressed.
The LVRRS has considered the stability and fire risks associated with the coal mine voids, and whether these risks could be mitigated by supplying water to fill the voids. It also provides guidance for mine licensees if relying solely on local surface water and groundwater is found to be unfeasible due to a drying climate.
Importantly, the LVRRS has not committed the government to a water-based mine rehabilitation in the Latrobe region. It acknowledges that water may be required for safe and stable rehabilitation but provides for a collaborative opportunity to further investigate alternative sources of water (recycled or desalinated water).
The LVRRS highlights that surface water availability in the Latrobe River system has decreased in the past 20 years, and that there are uncertainties associated with future water availability due to climate change and climate variability. The long timeframes involved with mine rehabilitation mean the impacts of climate change must be considered. Rehabilitation approaches that manage safety and stability risks with no water or less water, or water from alternative water sources, will be further investigated.
The LVRRS notes the importance of existing water users, Traditional Owner values and the environment. Any water used for mine rehabilitation should not negatively impact the rights of others or the environmental and Traditional owner values of the Latrobe River system.
The LVRRS states that up to 2,800 gigalitres (GL) of water could be required if all mine voids were completely filled to their crests, the equivalent of five Sydney Harbours, with an additional annual amount of around 15 GL in perpetuity to counter evaporation. In comparison, in 2017–18 Gippsland Water supplied towns (excluding industry) with 12.8 gigalitres of water.
The Latrobe Valley Regional Water Study (LVRWS) assessed the feasibility of supplying water to rehabilitate the Latrobe Valley’s brown coal mines once mining has ceased, including how and if this could be done without affecting water security and the reliable access to water for residents, industry, farming, emergencies and the environment.
The LVRWS improves our understanding of projected water availability and use in the Latrobe River system; potential alternative sources of water to those currently available; how water quality may change in the mine pits should water be required for mine rehabilitation; and the water needs of rivers and wetlands.
The LVRWS found that surface water availability in the Latrobe River system has decreased significantly in the past 20 years, from a long-term average of about 800 gigalitres a year to about 600 gigalitres a year since 1997.
It also found that under recent conditions or a potentially drier future climate, surface water availability could be less than that needed to supply all environmental and consumptive demands as well as mine rehabilitation.
If water sourced from the Latrobe River system is shown to be required for safe and stable mine rehabilitation, any filling of the mine voids would need to be subject to conditions, such as restricting or halting filling when it is dry, to prevent unacceptable impacts on other water users and the environment and to allow for declines in water availability to be shared between all water users.
The LVRWS also found that mine rehabilitation must not adversely impact on the environmental values of the Gippsland Lakes. This area is a Ramsar-listed site of international environmental significance that Victoria has an international obligation to protect and restore.
Yes, the Latrobe community has been involved with the development of the LVRRS from the beginning with the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry in 2015/16.
The Latrobe Valley Mine Rehabilitation Advisory Committee (LVMRAC) played a vital role in stakeholder and community engagement throughout the preparation of the LVRRS. Members of this Committee represent a range of stakeholder groups including the Latrobe Valley community, the Latrobe Valley mine operators, Latrobe City Council, Gippsland Water, Southern Rural Water, the Gippsland Trades and Labour Council, the Aboriginal community and government department representatives.
The Committee represents key stakeholder group interests in relation to mine rehabilitation in the Latrobe Valley and provides advice directly to the Minister for Resources on preparation of the LVRRS. The Committee acts as a conduit to broader stakeholder engagement in the Latrobe Valley during the life of the project. Minutes from Committee meetings are published on the Victorian Government’s Earth Resources website.
Consultation with community and other key stakeholders on the LVRRS over the course of the project included:
- More than 1500 people participated in market research for the LVRRS to gain a comprehensive understanding of community attitudes towards brown coal mine rehabilitation in the Latrobe Valley
- More than 50 meeting and briefings with 395 attendees
- 11 workshops with more than 140 attendees
- Ten Open days, community sessions and events with more than attendees 150
- More than 100 submissions received through public consultation processes on the Preliminary Land Use Vision and LVRRS Overview
- Twelve focus groups with more than 100 attendees, and
- More than 20 meetings with the LVMRAC. An overview of the LVRRS was published by DJPR for public consultation on Engage Victoria on 20 November 2019. Consultation closed on 17 January 2020. Submissions made public for viewing can be accessed by clicking here.
The implementation of the Strategy will provide mine licensees with further clarity on the options available for mine rehabilitation that will inform the preparation of mine licensees' Declared Mine Rehabilitation and Post Closure Plans. This will include:
- Further exploring alternative water options, such as recycled water or desalinated water, if a water-based mine rehabilitation approach remains the preferred approach for mine licensees. The opportunities that could be delivered for regional development, irrigation, industry and jobs from additional water being made available within the region will also be considered.
- Providing guidance on how to assess the future water availability from the Latrobe River system
- Identifying non-water-based options to manage land stability and fire risks if sufficient water is not available.
The Mine Land Rehabilitation Authority (MLRA) will also be established on 30 June 2020. Among the MLRA’s roles is monitoring and evaluating the implementation and effectiveness of the Latrobe Valley Regional Rehabilitation Strategy.
Page last updated: 02/08/21