Booming demand for coal exports in recent decades has seen the proliferation of huge open cut coal mines across NSW. In Australia, when these mines cease production their owners are not required to fill in the pit that remains. These “final voids” may be hundreds of metres deep and kilometres in length and their impact and scale is poorly understood.
Commissioned by the Hunter Communities Network, our new report The Hole Truth provides – for the first time – an audit of the total size of coal mine final voids in NSW. There are at least 45 voids with a total area of 6,050ha either planned or approved, equivalent to an area greater than all of Sydney Harbour. The report also explores the voids’ environmental and social impact, and the regulatory regime that permits this vast and potentially toxic legacy to be generated.