Summary: We know we need more mining if we are to deliver the energy transition, but there is one type of mining that we know will almost certainly decline over time, that is coal mining. According to the World Coal Association, there are over 10,000 operational coal mines in the world. This doesn’t include the mines that have already closed and artisanal mines. So, this is going to become an even bigger issue in the future than it is now. So what happens when the mines close? And does rehabilitation mean something different from what most people expect to get?
Why this is important: The experience at the Hazelwood mine shows that what the mining company plans to do and what the local community expects can end up being very different things. At very different costs.
The big theme: The green transition is going to need a lot more mining. Without it most of the transitions will just not happen. There is not a simple alternative, one that “does no harm”, while at the same time providing us with all of the raw materials we need for everything from electric vehicles, through greener buildings and transport, through to renewables such as wind and solar, and the vast amount of electricity grid investment we are going to need.
Summary of a story from ABC
The Australian Federal government is to investigate the potential environmental effects of rehabilitating the Hazelwood mine in the state of Victoria. The brown coal fueled Hazelwood power station closed in March 2017. Since then the mine owner (Engie) has been working on closing the site down. The proposal for the giant hole where the coal was extracted from was to transform it into a lake, some 70-130m deep. This would contain c. 640bn litres of water, with a top up of 5 bn litres pa to offset evaporation. It was estimated that it would take 10-20 years to fill the lake.