Post-mining landuse

As decades-old coal mines in Queensland approach the end of their economic lives, miners seek clarity about how to meet rehabilitation and closure requirements. One requirement is that the land is able to support an agreed subsequent use (DEHP, 2014). 

Current mining and environmental policies and processes in Queensland outline roles for the mining company and the regulator at various stages of mine closure planning. The guidelines also specify that there should be continual stakeholder involvement. However, the guidelines do not elaborate on what stakeholder involvement should consist of, and the perspectives of stakeholders are frequently overlooked. Instead, ‘scientific experts’ in government, mining companies and academia determine performance standards.

A research collaboration between SMI-CSRM and Central Queensland University considered the potential for commercially viable uses of coal mining leases once mining had ceased. The two-year project funded by the Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP project C25032) explored models for stakeholder involvement in post-mining land use planning.  

The study identified issues relevant to implementing the models in the Bowen Basin. The key data collection method was four workshops with a cross section of stakeholders, held in Blackwater, Central Queensland, between February and September 2017. 

We examined five examples of stakeholder panels suitable for assessing resource management issues

The main research findings relate to utility of land and to stakeholder processes. They include:

  1. Stakeholders shared some views with regard to post-mining land uses
    • Grazing is regarded as the most suitable use in CQ
    • A ‘patchwork’ of uses with some productive and some not is anticipated
    • Post-mining land can have ecological, social and economic functions
    • Native vegetation adds value as part of a grazing property
    • Planning and engagement with stakeholders is valuable and should begin early
  2. Considerations relevant to using ex-mining leases for grazing include:
    • Risk is an issue – who bears residual risk and financial liability?
    • Due diligence and ‘science’ about matters including water, soils and engineering (e.g. dams).
    • Monitoring and management responsibilities for contaminated areas
    • Water resources – availability and quality
    • Access throughout the ex-mining property
    • Ex-mining leases are expected to be less productive than undisturbed land but are nevertheless often viable packages
  3. There are effective models to engage stakeholders appropriate to
    • The risk or issue characteristics
    • The people with a stake (interest, influence, networks, experience)
    • The purpose and scope of the stakeholder panel
  4. Strengths of workshop-based processes and use of concrete examples include:
    • Enhancing mutual understanding;
    • Facilitating convergence, consensus and compromise
    • Drawing on balance of experience and expertise (not all techno-scientific; not all self-interested)
  5. Some remaining challenges
    • Context-sensitivity and transferability of the process
    • Consistency over cases, over time and over space
    • Integrating participatory processes into regulatory decision-making 


  • Project Report: Stakeholder involvement in planning to maximise the benefits and acceptance of land packages post-coal-mining in Central Queensland
  • Supplement 1: Processes to transfer post-mining lands to agricultural uses in the Bowen Basin: issues, economics and analysis
  • Supplement 2: An evidence based proposal for stakeholder engagement in post-mining land uses
  • Supplement 3: Models for stakeholder engagement in land use change decisions in the Bowen Basin
  • Supplement 4: Assessing the convergence of stakeholder views on post-mining lands uses in the Bowen Basin
  • Supplement 5: Using workshop processes to generate stakeholder agreement about post-mining land uses