Mine rehab an ‘important issue’

Local community group Voices of the Valley has joined the growing chorus of calls to accelerate the rehabilitation of Latrobe Valley’s ageing mine network.

Mine rehabilitation – the shaping and covering of disused open cut coal mine walls with earth material and vegetation – has become a hot topic after it was snubbed as a realistic mine fire prevention measure by the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry for being “too complex”.

There have since been growing calls to fast track rehabilitation of the Hazelwood, Yallourn and Loy Yang mines, which is being spruiked as a large scale source of job creation for the Latrobe Valley.

“Everyone knows that the mines need to be rehabilitated, but we need to implement a mechanism to make the power companies get on with it,” VOTV president Wendy Farmer said.

Ms Farmer’s comments came on Thursday after the release of a report by Environment Victoria, which claimed a fast tracked mine rehabilitation program would sustain 439 jobs per annum for the next 20 years.

“At our recent public forum, mine rehabilitation was one of the most important issues identified by the community that they want to see happen as soon as possible,” Ms Farmer said.

While Ms Farmer welcomed comments from Labor candidate for Morwell Jadon Mintern, who said it was “one of the most important issues for the Valley”, she echoed calls by Environment Victoria for the major political parties to make clear commitments for rehabilitation timelines.

In Thursday’s Express, Member for Morwell Russell Northe said a review of rehabilitation funding measures was underway, adding he would engage mine operators on rehabilitation as a “matter of priority” in 2015.

Meanwhile, Labor’s shadow spokesperson for Energy and Mining Lily D’Ambrosio said Labor would need to assess mine rehabilitation priorities in its first term if it wins government in November.