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FOI-obtained wish list reveals coal companies want to wriggle out of rehabilitation responsibility

New freedom of information documents reveal big coal companies are trying to wriggle out of their long term rehabilitation responsibilities.

The documents (available here) expose a coal industry wish list, and show how companies are lobbying the government to make it easier for them to abandon responsibility for “residual long-term risk” of failed rehabilitation on mine sites. 

They also show companies want to be able to change what a site will look like after mining finishes without consulting the public or going through the regular assessment process. 

This, as the industry wish-list reveals, would allow companies to change mine closure plans and rehabilitation commitments without having to apply to do so, allowing them to escape public scrutiny.   

Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Steve Phillips said, “So much of the Upper Hunter is a scarred moonscape of coal pits. The rehabilitation of these sites to the highest possible standard is vital to the Hunter’s long term prosperity in a post-coal world.

“Hunter locals want any development that occurs on rehabilitated mine sites to be sustainable, and informed by an open and transparent process. They don’t want a mining company free for all.

“Allowing mining companies to dodge liability for residual risk means the costs of long-term hazards post-rehabilitation could land on NSW taxpayers or post-mining land owners.

“As the NSW Audit Office has already found, existing long-term rehabilitation laws in the state do not offer sufficient protection for communities from coal companies who botch the rehabilitation of mine sites. 

“Yet more than six years after that report was released, we see mining companies lobbying the government to further weaken these unsatisfactory laws.

“At the same time, mining companies want the freedom to change what a site looks like after mining has finished without even applying to do so. Such a reform would put the Hunter and its communities at serious financial and environmental risk.

“The Minns Government must not cave to coal company demands to avoid rehabilitation responsibilities - but instead should strengthen laws and protect Hunter communities and environment."


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