Authors: Reeves, JM; Baumgartl, T; Morgan, D; Reimers, V; Green, M

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Reeves, JM, Baumgartl, T, Morgan, D, Reimers, V & Green, M 2022, 'Community capacity to envisage a post-mine future: rehabilitation options for Latrobe Valley brown coal mines', in AB Fourie, M Tibbett & G Boggs (eds), Mine Closure 2022: Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 173-186,

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Since closure of the Hazelwood Power Station in 2017, and the associated Morwell open cut mine, the community of the Latrobe Valley have largely come to terms with the coming end of an industry that for almost a century defined their region. However, the capacity for the community to envisage what comes next has been limited. This is in part due to uncertainty of the viability of options for rehabilitation, future ownership and responsibility for the sites, and a challenging policy framework. It is also related to systemic social issues, such as mistrust of both government and energy companies, as well as over-consultation fatigue. We draw here on findings from a recent study, commissioned by AGL Loy Yang, on the community perspectives on the final void forms and future land and water uses of the three Latrobe Valley open cut brown coal mines – and surrounding lands. The data were obtained through a series of focus groups with key stakeholders, including community organisations, environmental groups, government authorities, business groups, primary producers and Traditional Owners; and a web-based survey, completed by over 560 participants. From this we found a common theme concerning a desire to have the land returned to the community and to leave a positive legacy for the sites. Options that were visually attractive and enabled either recreation and/or tourism were preferred to future industrial uses; environmental benefit was also a strong priority. Authentic community consultation necessitates that the community be empowered to make an informed contribution to the discussion, and that they are made aware of how their input will be utilised. The community of the Latrobe Valley are invested in having a positive outcome for their region, which future generations can benefit from. To achieve this, the community must be actively engaged in the process.

Keywords: transition, community consultation, post-mine land use, revisioning

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