Hazelwood Power Station and Mine. Image ENGIE
By Elizabeth Fabri
AUSTRALIA’S ‘dirtiest coal mine’ Hazelwood will close its doors in March after more than 50 years of operation.
Widely speculated for months, majority-operator ENGIE confirmed the news in November claiming a closure was in line with its long-term strategy to end coal production.
Difficult market conditions, lower electricity prices and a surplus of electricity supply in Victoria were also responsible.
“ENGIE will remain an important actor in Australia,” ENGIE chief executive Isabelle Kocher said.
“With more than 1500 employees, we will continue our development towards low carbon activities.
“As a responsible actor, we are committed to supporting our employees and to work now on the rehabilitation of the site, in close cooperation with all our stakeholders.”
The project currently employed 450 ENGIE employees and 300 contractors, and would keep on 250 staff to manage the power decommissioning and mine rehabilitation post closure.
Responding to the news, the Andrews Labor Government said the closure was a ‘gut retching’ outcome for the Latrobe Valley community.
“For many families in the Latrobe Valley, there won’t be a tougher day than this,” Premier Daniel Andrews said.
“We will do everything we can to give them the support they need.”
A $22 million package of support would be provided for Hazelwood workers and affected businesses, along with an addition $20 million to fund a dedicated Latrobe Valley Authority to manage future economic development of the region.
Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said the closure would not impact power supply for the State.
“The closure of Hazelwood will not affect the security of Victoria’s electricity supply, as the state has multiple sources of generation from coal, gas and wind and can source power from other states if needed,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.