Hazelwood Rehabilitation Project

Victoria, Australia

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The Hazelwood Rehabilitation Project (the project) involves the final rehabilitation of the former Hazelwood Mine to a safe, stable and sustainable landform capable of supporting productive land uses. The proposed final landform for the former Hazelwood Mine void is a lake to a relative level (RL) of +45 metres Australian Height Datum (+45m AHD). The proposed lake would provide for long term safety and stability of the Mine void (batters and floor), obviate a requirement for ongoing groundwater pumping into perpetuity, minimise fire risk in the M1 coal seam, and provide opportunities for future investment and uses that might be delivered by Government, the local community, or the private sector.

Key works for the project include:

  • Filling of the Mine void to a final level of up to RL +45m AHD using predominately groundwater, surface water and any other approved water sources
  • Final rehabilitation and reprofiling works on the upper Mine batters (i.e. above the surface of the future Mine lake)
  • Final decommissioning and drainage of the Hazelwood Cooling Pond (HCP) and restoration of the natural alignment of Eel Hole Creek
  • Decommissioning remaining redundant infrastructure, such as redundant roads, car parks, buildings and pumphouses on the HCP and Saline Water Outlet Pipeline (SWOP)
  • Construction and operation of infrastructure necessary to maintain lake depth and water quality following completion of fill including Morwell River interconnection, providing regional flood mitigation opportunities.

Approach

AECOM was engaged by ENGIE Hazelwood to prepare the Victorian Environment Effects Statement (EES) and Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act (EPBC) referrals for the project. During the referral preparation process, AECOM supported ENGIE Hazelwood in establishing the project definition to be used for the referrals and supported engagement with the relevant regulators.

To support the referrals, AECOM also prepared preliminary biodiversity and heritage appraisal reports, detailing the existing conditions of the site based on desktop information and undertook a preliminary appraisal of the effects of the project on biodiversity and heritage values.

Outcomes and Value

The EES referral was accepted by the Victorian Government on 2 December 2021. On 3 February 2022, the Victorian Minister for Planning decided that an EES is required for the project based on the potential for significant environmental effects and to enable an integrated and transparent assessment of the project.

As a result of the Minister’s decision, AECOM is assisting ENGIE Hazelwood with scoping of EES technical studies and preparation of the EES Study Program.

Key outcomes and values that AECOM provided on the project referrals included:

  • Providing strategic advice on approval pathways, given AECOM’s extensive experience in the applicable legislation and learnings from a wide range of projects
  • Undertaking a gap analysis to provide recommendations on how to address gaps and provide specialist support
  • Utilising established relationships with the regulators to support regulator engagement and manage the risk of the referrals being rejected, resulting in limited comments from regulators on the draft referrals
  • Completing the EES and EPBC referrals within a constrained timeframe to meet key regulatory requirements.