The state Minister for Energy and Resources says there must be a plan to progressively rehabilitate Victoria’s four coal mines.
The State Government will reopen the Hazelwood mine fire inquiry to investigate mine rehabilitation and air pollution concerns.
The inquiry will open again next month and will also investigate claims of premature deaths related to last year’s 45-day fire.
Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said more than $6 million would also be spent on closing the regulatory gaps in assessing the fire risk of mines.
She said the inquiry would make recommendations on how to best to rehabilitate the state’s coal mines in the Latrobe Valley and Anglesea.
“We need to ensure that each of the four mines does progressive rehabilitation for the life of these mines in a way that is best practice internationally and that is a focus that we’re very committed to doing and it’s part of rebuilding the trust with the broader community,” she said.
“We know that mines are very susceptible not just to fire, but to flood, and to land subsidence and it’s critical that we actually have a whole picture of the particular risks that are particular to each of the four mines across Victoria.”
Meanwhile, a community group is calling for the immediate deployment of additional medical professionals in the Latrobe Valley.
Voices of the Valley has welcomed the reopening of the Hazelwood mine fire inquiry but said residents needed help now.
The group’s president, Wendy Farmer, said some residents had experienced ongoing respiratory problems and infections since the fire.
She said some people had found it difficult to access medical help.
“The community needs clinical health help now, they need heart specialists, they need all sorts of specialists,” she said.
“There shouldn’t be any reason why this can’t run along a long-term health study.”
Premier Daniel Andrews said he had asked the Health Minister to look into the matter.