World Coal Association member Yancoal, the operator of Premier Coal, recently opened Lake Kepwari, near Collie, in Western Australia, 50 years after opencast mining operations started at the site.
The opening of Lake Kepwari is an important example of how mining is only a temporary use of the land, which can be relinquished at the end of the rehabilitation process as an asset to the public.
Rehabilitation for mine sites is usually determined years in advance to support the continued contribution to the community and the economy. The rehabilitation of Lake Kepwari began in the 1980s, even as mining operations continued until 1996.
Land rehabilitation is about returning the land to an agreed environmental condition that is safe, stable, and sustainable. The key objective of Premier Coal’s rehabilitation programme was to create a functioning, self-sustaining ecosystem that would integrate into the surrounding bushland and landscape.
Lake Kepwari has been developed as a recreational hub for the community and tourists, helping to diversify the economy and provide jobs. Collie has traditionally relied on mining to provide employment and to support local businesses, but the transformation to a water sports hub is expected to lead to a rise in tourism, and a positive impact on the local economy.