Hazelwood mine

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{{#badges:CoalVictoria|Navbar-Australiacoal}}The Hazelwood mine is owned by International Power Australia and supplies the adjoining Hazelwood power station. The mine is located near Morwell and produces approximately 19 million tonnes of coal a year.[1]

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Mine subsidence closes freeway

In early February 2011, following a period of heavy rainfall, subsidence at the north end of the Hazelwood mine resulted in two to three centimetres wide cracks appearing in the surface of the adjoining Princes Freeway.[2] According to International Power Australia the initial subsidence was in the area of the Morwell Main Drain inside the mines' northern boundary and adjacent to the south side of Morwell Township.[3]

As a result, the Victorian Minister for Energy and Resources, Michael O'Brien, announced the freeway would be closed pending further investigations. "Experts have examined the situation but the precise extent of the land movement will not be known for some time. The immediate concern is the stability and integrity of the freeway and our first priority is the safety of motorists and local residents. We will be keeping the public informed and authorities are tonight advising local residents of the situation. Authorities are not currently proposing to ask any people to move from their homes and I am advised that this will be unlikely in the future," he said in a media release.[4][5][6]

A spokesman for International Power Australia, Trevor Rowe, stated the the subsidence would have no impact on the mine operations or power generation as "the area is an old, not-worked section of the mine."[7] "The area in question has not been mined for 30 to 40 years and is located some three kilometres from the current operational face in an area previously known as Morwell Open Cut. We do not anticipate that this land movement will have any adverse impact on coal excavation or power generation at Hazelwood power station," the company stated in a media release.[3]

In a media release Environment Victoria stated that "this incident raises grave concerns about the safety of the Hazelwood mine and the viability of the ageing power station which is the dirtiest in the country and has repeatedly breached its pollution limits." Environment Victoria's Campaigns Director, Mark Wakeham, renewed calls to close the mine and the associated power station.[8]

The subsidence wasn't the first time that there had been a major problem with one of the Latrobe Valley mines. On November 14, 2007 an 80-metre-high section of the wall at the Yallourn mine collapsed and slid 250 metres across the open-cut mine floor. The collapse resulted in approximately six million cubic metres of material obliterate a mine road and two major conveyor belts. The collapse led to a Mining Warden's investigation into the causes and appropriate responses.[9][10] (For further details on the collapse see Yallourn mine article).

Articles and resources

References

  1. International Power Australia, "Hazelwood Power Station and Mine", International Power Australia website, accessed August 2010.
  2. Thomas Hunter, "Fears of collapse to shut Princes Highway for three months", The Age, February 11, 2011.
  3. 3.0 3.1 International Power Australia, "Community Update: Main drain land movement", Media Release, February 15, 2011.
  4. Michael O'Brien, Victorian Minister for Energy and Resources, "Freeway closure at Morwell", Media Release, February 10, 2011.
  5. "Wet night causes Princes Freeway closure in Morwell", Herald Sun, February 11, 2011.
  6. "Freeway closed over landslide threat", ABC News, February 11, 2011.
  7. Jessica Craven, Nathan Mawby, "Princes Freeway could be closed for months", Herald Sun, February 11, 2011.
  8. Environment Victoria, "Coalition must set timeline to replace Hazelwood power station after landslide fears", Media Release, February 11, 2011.
  9. Professor Tim Sullivan, "Yallourn Mine Batter Failure Inquiry", Parliament of Victoria, June 30, 2008.
  10. Melissa Fyfe, "Experts missed obvious signs before mine collapse", The Age, January 4, 2009.

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