Authority to replace mine commissioner

Latrobe Valley mine commissioner Rae Mackay. file photograph

Latrobe Valley mine commissioner Rae Mackay. file photograph

An authority that will manage mine closure and rehabilitation across the state will be established in 2020 in place of the Latrobe Valley mine commissioner.

The Mine Land Rehabilitation Authority will be located at the yet-to-be-established GovHub in Morwell and will assume the commissioner's role and function.

The commissioner is tasked with providing independent advice to the state government about mine rehabilitation in the Latrobe Valley and to assist in the development of the Latrobe Valley Regional Rehabilitation Strategy.

Minister for Resources Tim Pallas introduced a Bill to Parliament to amend the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990 on Tuesday which allows for the creation of the authority to address recommendations outlined in the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry concerning a lack of clarity around legislative requirements for mine rehabilitation and post-closure land management.

The authority will ensure mine operators and land owners fulfil their obligations and will ensure community expectations around rehabilitation and land management are met, as well as ensure relevant provisions can be applied to any mine across the state that poses ongoing risks to public safety, the environment or infrastructure.

Latrobe Valley mine reh­abilitation commissioner Professor Rae Mackay said the establishment of the authority would coincide with the implementation of the regional rehabilitation strategy.

"My team is a small team. The team isn't really built to actually deal with all the issues that may come through once the strategy is being implemented," he said.

"What the statutory authority will look like is probably something a lot bigger than my team.

"It will have a significant role in the monitoring of rehabilitation, particularly post-closure, so that if there are any unforeseen impacts or impacts that are foreseen but are going to have to have management and maintenance then the authority will hopefully be a major party to that process."

The commissioner said "it is possible" he would have a role within the new authority.

"I believe the expectation is, I think, the activities that are currently undertaken by myself and my team will continue within the authority," he said.

"The way in which it will be dealt with ... hasn't been worked out yet."

The commissioner said the establishment of the Mine Land Rehabilitation Authority would be a positive step forward.

"We should be talking about a significant number of jobs [that] will be based in the Valley," he said.

"I can't say how many, but it will be substantially more than the small team that I've got." 

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