The Hole Truth: The mess coal companies plan to leave in NSW

by Adam Walters, Energy & Resource Insights, June 2016.

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Booming demand for coal exports in recent decades has seen the proliferation of huge open cut coal mines across NSW. In Australia, when these mines cease production their owners are not required to fill in the pit that remains. These “final voids” may be hundreds of metres deep and kilometres in length and their impact and scale is poorly understood. This report identifies the probable scale of currently approved final voids in NSW, particularly the Upper Hunter – and the gaps in scientific knowledge, often related to a lack of detailed studies for each final void as well as the lack of regional studies which integrate all current and former mines.

Commissioned by the Hunter Communities Network, this report provides – for the first time – an audit of the total size of coal mine final voids in NSW. There are at least 45 voids with a total area of 6,050ha of voids either planned or approved, equivalent to an area greater than all of Sydney Harbour. The report also explores the voids’ environmental and social impact, and the regulatory regime that permits this vast and potentially toxic legacy to be generated. 

Find the full report here.