Opencast mining alters surface and subsurface hydrology of a landscape both during and post-mining. At mine closure, following opencast mining in mines with low overburden to coal ratios, a void is left in the final landform. This final void is the location of the active mine pit at closure. Voids are generally not infilled within the mines' lifetime, because of the prohibitive cost of earthwork operations, and they become post-mining water bodies or pit lakes. Water quality is a significant issue for pit lakes. Groundwater within coal seams and associated rocks can be saline, depending on the nature of the strata and groundwater circulation patterns. This groundwater may be preferentially drawn to and collected in the final void. Surface runoff to the void will not only collect salts from rainfall and atmospheric fallout, but also from the ground surface and the weathering of fresh rock. As the void water level rises, its evaporative surface area increases, concentrating salts that are held in solution. This paper presents a study of the long term, water quality trends in a post-mining final void in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia. This process is complex and occurs long tern, and modelling offers the only method of evaluating water quality. Using available geochemical, climate and hydrogeological data as inputs into a mass-balance model, water quality in the final void was found to increase rapidly in salinity through time (2452 to 8909 mg l(-1) over 500 years) as evaporation concentrates the salt in the void and regional groundwater containing high loads of salt continues to flow into the void. Copyright (C) 2004 John Wiley Sons, Ltd.