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Welcome to our third quarterly newsletter.
I have been delighted to attend many community group meetings over the last three months and to explore the issues of mine rehabilitation and the future transitions in the Valley that are likely to take place both as a result of mine rehabilitation and as a consequence of changes in social and economic activities that will benefit the region.
These conversations have helped me to understand the wishes of the community and have also allowed me to explain some of the many challenges that have to be met to achieve a good rehabilitation outcome that will stand the test of time and will not be an economic burden on the region.
I was also delighted to host a public forum in June that explored the contributions to mine and rehabilitation assessment of the major regulators – WorkSafe, Earth Resources Regulation and the Environment Protection Authority. Their oversight helps to ensure that the works undertaken at the mines are appropriate and safe. The attendance was excellent at the forum and I thank everyone for many insightful questions and comments.
In the coming months, I will continue to engage with community groups while at the same time working closely with the Mine Operators and Government Departments to oversee the formulation of the Regional Rehabilitation Strategy. This will inform how the Mine Operators deliver their rehabilitation plans. It will be a very busy period through to the end of the year.
The Valley in 3D
We are very excited to introduce our new 3D model – a portable bird’s eye view of the Latrobe Valley towns and coal mines all in the one place!
Made from solid timber, the model has been carefully created to act as a visual resource to support our engagement activities in informing and educating the community about mine rehabilitation in the Latrobe Valley.
Created by landscape architect Roselea Monacella, its beautiful design features removable inserts of the towns and mines providing insight to the region’s landscape and character.
We have also engaged the Newborough Men’s Shed to share their expertise under the guidance of representative Noel Lees, by building three boxes for easy storage and transport for the model, which will be showcased at local events in the coming months.
We are very keen to share our new model with local community members, groups and schools alike.
Over the last few months, the Commissioner and his team met with more than 300 people at nine community meetings in the Latrobe Valley to continue to talk about mine rehabilitation issues and hear your questions and concerns.
Here are some of the questions we’ve heard:
When will the rehabilitation of the Hazelwood mine be finished?
It is anticipated to take between 12 and 24 years to fill the Hazelwood mine with water, and a further seven years to monitor and maintain the site before rehabilitation is completed. The LVMRC would like to see access to the site earlier, however this cannot be achieved until there is an agreement in place by the government for access to the mining lease land. ENGIE is an energy company and is not in the business of development, but it can choose to develop as the company owns the land.
What other options are there if filling with water is the preferred option?
There are higher costs to filling the mine with other waste materials such as overburden. Sourcing such materials is also difficult as there is simply not enough available.
Is there an arrangement with the government to transfer the land?
While the mine operators own the land, they are power generators essentially and not developers. It is their responsibility to leave the mine voids safe, stable and sustainable, which can therefore allow for future development opportunities that the LVMRC would like to see proposed by the community, local government or the state. As an example, in Melbourne’s east, a developer has purchased the Cave Hill quarry in Lilydale for $100 million to make way for residential development on the 163-hectare site. The developer is working with the local city council there to also develop recreational areas for the community.
What are the prospects of developing something like the Great Latrobe Park?
It is not for the LVMRC to decide what happens with the land, but it is very supportive of exploring these ideas. It is up to the community, local government and the state to consider implementing ideas such as the Great Latrobe Park. However, the likely costs for these initiatives will be high in comparison to similar projects we’ve seen. As an example, the Eden project in the UK cost $1 billion to transform 15 hectares of the former clay mine. One mine here in the Latrobe Valley is 1,500 hectares alone. Due to the location of the Loy Yang mine, a park proposed would be more suited to connecting both Hazelwood and Yallourn only.
We would like to thank the Inner Wheel Club of Moe, Gippsland Multicultural Services Inc., Newborough Probus Club, Maryvale Probus Club, Asbestos Council of Victoria Inc./GARDS, Latrobe Youth Space, Morwell Historical Society, Boolarra Community Development Group and Churchill Neighbourhood Centre for hosting the Commissioner and team in June, July and August.
Regulating Rehabilitation – June public forum
The role of government regulators in the rehabilitation of the Latrobe Valley brown coal mines was the focus of our public forum in June, which was attended by 93 people – our largest event yet!
Representatives from Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA), Earth Resources Regulation (ERR) and WorkSafe Victoria discussed the individual roles of the three regulatory bodies and how they work together to manage potential risks to site workers and the general public throughout the rehabilitation period.
You can find a summary of the evening here.
Thank you to everyone who came along. We love to see the community getting involved in the mine rehabilitation discussion.
Our next forum is scheduled in December – keep an eye out for more details!
Exploring mine rehabilitation through art
From publishing zines to making wearable art, mapping rehabilitation, and exploring the sounds of coal – these different artworks have been created by community members learning new artistic skills as well as developing their awareness about mine rehabilitation as part of the Coal Hole project.
Launched in partnership with the Latrobe Valley Mine Rehabilitation Commissioner and local not-for-profit organisation The Big Picture Space Inc., and facilitated by PollyannaR, a specialist in community-led arts installations, Coal Hole provides a unique opportunity for local community members to connect, understand and explore the mine rehabilitation process through arts engagement.
Since its launch in June, the Coal Hole project has held twice weekly workshops and hosted two public events to showcase the work in the form of a fashion parade which took to the streets of Morwell, and a music show exploring the issue and aesthetics of coal, energy and the environment through sound, video, live performance and art.
The project was also invited by the Australian Youth Climate Coalition to run workshops with more than 100 high school students from 11 schools at the Latrobe Valley Climate Justice Summit held in Morwell in August.
Coal Hole project director PollyannaR and LVMRC Technical Advisor Rhonda Hastie worked with students to explore how mine rehabilitation aims to achieve a safe, stable and sustainable landform by participating in interactive experiments on the concepts of ‘floor heave’ and block sliding’ phenomena in brown coal mines, and discussed why the pits require filling to prevent their occurrence once mining ceases.
Over the coming months, Coal Hole will feature other guest facilitators including local Aboriginal artists and will run an interactive workshop with the LVMRC team at the annual Traralgon Show before a final event later in the year.
The Commissioner and team continue to meet with local community members to chat about mine rehabilitation and answer questions, with more group meetings scheduled over the coming months:
Latrobe City Youth Council
Tuesday 8 October
Latrobe City Council, Morwell
Latrobe Valley Australian Plants Society (Victoria)
Thursday 10 October
TAFE Gippsland, Morwell
Gippsland Association of Affiliated Historical Societies
Sunday 15 September
Moe Historical Society, Moe
If you would like to host the Commissioner for a mine rehabilitation information session, please call us on 1800 571 966 or email email@example.com.
A big part of the LVMRC’s role is to engage with and educate the Latrobe Valley community on mine rehabilitation issues. We would be delighted to arrange one-on-one meetings or attend community group meetings to discuss any aspect of rehabilitation planning that is underway.
If you have any questions, or if you’d like to arrange a meeting with the Commissioner, you can contact our office.
1800 571 966