The Nationals Gippsland South Danny O'Brien Water Irrigation pit lakes mine rehabilitation Latrobe River Enironmental Effects Statements LVRRS coal mines

More answers needed on mine rehabilitation

The Gippsland community needs more answers from the Andrews Labor Government on Latrobe Valley coal mine rehabilitation and potential impacts on Latrobe River and water users.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien, said the forthcoming release of the Latrobe Valley Regional Rehabilitation Strategy (LVRRS) needs to give the community clearer answers, particularly plans to create pit lakes in all three coal mines.

Mr O’Brien recently asked a series of questions in State Parliament to the Minister for Water, Lisa Neville, but most of them weren’t answered, including whether or not an Environmental Effects Statement (EES) would be required for the mine-fill plan.

“The plans to fill the coal mines with water when they are all closed would require up to 3,000 gigalitres of water – that’s the equivalent of six times the volume of Sydney Harbour.

“That is just a staggering amount of water and it is not at all clear where this water will come from or how it could be delivered without impacting on other water users.

“I have been working with Latrobe River irrigators for some time who are concerned about the security of their water entitlements and the opportunities that could be lost for expanding irrigation in the region.”

Mr O’Brien said he was pleased the Minister had said no existing entitlements would be affected but it is unclear what this means for the use of so-called ‘mine returns’.

“Ground water pumped from the coal mines is diverted into the Latrobe River which provides additional flow that can trigger licenced extraction for Latrobe River irrigators

“The government needs to clarify how changes to ground water pumping might impact on water availability for our irrigators.”

Mr O’Brien said there was no clear picture of where water would come from to fill the mines.

“The owner of the Morwell mine ENGIE is planning to start filling its mine in January next year, but we still don’t know where the water will come from.

“There are unused entitlements in the Latrobe system that should be put towards growing irrigation and food production in Central Gippsland which would help create jobs and grow our local economy as we transition away from coal.

“The last thing we need is for the that water to be effectively wasted in filling up mine voids.

“The government needs to answer these questions and the LVRRS must provide the community with clear answers on how this will play out.”

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien, is concerned about impacts of planned mine pit lakes on the Latrobe River and water users.

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