Newcastle University's Global Centre for Environmental Remediation head Professor Ravi Naidu says NSW government bond system holds less than half of what is needed to rehabilitate Hunter mines

When major coal mine projects fail or close without notice, they often leave a path of destruction. Thousands of workers are unemployed, communities left to count the environmental, social and economic cost and the whole industry and government's credibility takes a battering.

 

SHORTFALL: Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment chief executive Professor Ravi Naidu estimates government-held bonds would not cover half the cost of mine site rehabilitation.

Regulation of Australia's mining industry is fractured, with different rules applying on a state-by-state and even mine-by-mine basis depending on when the mine was first approved.

Late last year, Queensland appointed its first Mine Rehabilitation Commissioner, as part of broader reforms to drive regeneration of old mine sites and create new jobs in regional communities.

Victoria has the Mine Land Rehabilitation Authority, tasked with overseeing rehabilitation planning and ensuring transition to post-mining land use.

Last year, NSW overhauled its rehabilitation laws in an effort to ensure that progressive rehabilitation is carried out throughout the lifespan of every mine.

In the Upper Hunter, 17 mines are scheduled to close over the next 20 years resulting in the release of 130,000 hectares of land and the loss of thousands of jobs.

Last month, BHP announced plans to close the state's biggest coal mine, Muswellbrook's Mt Arthur, in 2030, which employs 2000 workers.