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After the Coal Rush, the Clean Up: Community Blueprint to Restore the Hunter

FEB 2023: The future of the Hunter Valley is in the balance: decisions made now will determine the viability of the region’s communities and environments for many decades to come.

The coal industry has dominated the physical, social, and economic landscape of the Hunter for generations, but it's reign is coming to an end. The Hunter economy, people and landscape are moving toward a post-coal future. The question is, how well will we manage it?

>> TAKE ACTION - Add your voice to the call for a brighter future for the Hunter >>

More than 130,000 hectares of mine-owned land in the Hunter will become available for re-use in the next twenty years – the restoration of this land could deliver enormous economic and employment potential, and position the Hunter as a world leader in regenerative industries. But to unlock the opportunities of the future, we must first clean up the legacy of the past. 

Our new report reveals community perspectives and priorities for managing this landscape-scale challenge and lays out the pathway to enable a prosperous, inclusive and sustainable future for our Valley. 

Read and download the full report here

The Hunter economy, people and landscape are moving towards a post-coal future. The question is, how well will we manage this change?

Managed poorly — piece by piece and in the interests of mining companies, we risk being left with a degraded landscape, depressed communities, and few opportunities. If managed well, planned structural change offers a tremendous opportunity for the region to become a more vibrant and attractive place to live, with connected communities, a diverse and resilient economy, and a thriving natural environment.

To achieve this will take a new approach to planning and development in the region in partnership with local communities. It will require new laws and well resourced public agencies capable of managing the restoration and ensuring coal companies pay their dues, and clean up after themselves.


Earlier and ongoing community engagement found that mine rehabilitation and the future of the Valley are of great concern to local people.

We asked Hunter residents through our engagement to prioritise the recommendations. Their priorities spanned all of the five categories, and some recommendations were clearly favoured. These were: 

• Increase coal mining royalties to support the Hunter’s transition and repair the landscape through long-term ecosystem restoration.
• Set stronger legal obligations so that companies cannot leave voids that will become a perpetual hazard to human and environmental health.
• Mandate greater community involvement in post-mining land use planning, and ensure new developments will benefit Hunter communities for the long-term.
• Support the return of mine-owned land to Traditional Owners (especially unmined buffer lands), and engage First Nations people in decision-making for new projects from the outset.
• Create an independent Hunter Rehabilitation and Restoration Commission to plan, coordinate and deliver a restored Hunter Valley

Read and download the full report here