FAQ

Why are the power stations at Port Augusta and the mine at Leigh Creek closing?

In June 2015 Alinta Energy informed the State Government of its business decision to close its power stations in Port Augusta and its Leigh Creek coal mine.

Operations at the Leigh Creek mine ceased on 17 November 2015 and electricity generation at the Port Augusta power stations will cease in May 2016.

Alinta senior management, State and Australian Government agencies are working together to coordinate services, assistance and support for up to 440 workers.

What assistance is Alinta providing for workers?

Alinta senior management, State and Australian Government agencies are working together to coordinate services, assistance and support for up to 440 workers.

All affected employees will receive their full entitlements plus three months’ redundancy in lieu of notice (where necessary). This three month redundancy package will cost Alinta up to $9.5 million in addition to the $75 million they have already allocated for employee entitlements/redundancy packages.

Alinta will fund extensive support services to assist workers during this transition.

In July 2015, a Transition Centre was opened by Alinta’s Chief Executive Jeff Dimery in Leigh Creek. A similar Transition Centre has been established in Port Augusta to support the power station workforce.

In October, Alinta distributed redundancy packages to 148 Leigh Creek workers. Of these workers, 57 have a right of return to public service, and received an offer for public sector employment.

The State Government, in partnership with Alinta Energy, will support workers by:

  • providing dedicated career advisors who will support them to develop resumes, job applications and tailored career plans
  • identifying training providers that can support them to undertake the training identified in their career plans
  • providing funds to assist in the training identified in the individual’s career plan.

Workers from Alinta can access the assistance through one of the transition centres in Port Augusta or Leigh Creek.

What is the $7 million economic assistance package?

In November 2015 the State Government announced a $7 million economic assistance package for the Upper Spencer Gulf and Outback.

Regional Development Fund

Up to $5 million would be made available in the next round of the Regional Development Fund (RDF) to specifically support projects that will create jobs and drive economic growth in the area.

Applications for RDF Round 3 have now closed.

For more information, including RDF guidelines and details of information sessions, visit www.pir.sa.gov.au/rdf

Upper Spencer Gulf and Outback Futures Program

A new $2 million small grants program was announced exclusively for the region.

Funding will be made available from the $10 million Jobs Accelerator Fund to the once-off Upper Spencer Gulf and Outback Futures Program, a stand-alone program that will provide grants for smaller projects from $50,000 up to $200,000 on a dollar for dollar basis.

Individuals, local companies and businesses, large and small, as well as local councils, Regional Development Australia and the Outback Communities Authority are encouraged to put forward applications for funding projects for this area.

Applications for the Upper Spencer Gulf and Outback Futures Program have now closed.

For more information visit Upper Spencer Gulf and Outback Futures Program.

What happens to the power station and other assets?

The State Government will ensure that Alinta complies with its obligations under the leasing arrangements regarding removing the power station infrastructure, remediating the underlying land, and rehabilitating the Leigh Creek mine.

The State Government will work with Alinta on the appropriate closure processes for each of the relevant assets. Each asset has its own unique issues, and the overall closure will be a staged process over time once the power stations have been shut down.

What support is the State Government providing?

The Government is committed to regional South Australia and is working with affected local governments, Members of Parliament, Regional Development Authorities and other key stakeholders to support the Upper Spencer Gulf and Outback community

SUPPORT FOR LEIGH CREEK TO REMAIN OPEN FOR BUSINESS

The State Government has announced  it will support Leigh Creek to remain open for business beyond July 2018 providing essential services for about 700 people both in the town and surrounding communities.

Negotiations between the State Government and Alinta are continuing for handback to government to occur from January 2017.  Government has asked the Outback Communities Authority (OCA) to take over operational management of Leigh Creek from this time with essential services and buildings to be maintained, including those for commercial use such as the caravan park and tavern, which will be offered through an Expression of Interest process to operators in the second half of 2016.

It is the Government’s intention to help guide the transition of Leigh Creek from a closed mining town to an open regional service centre with an independent future – a future that is influenced by the local and nearby communities including the Traditional Land Owners.

COMMERCIAL OPPORTUNITIES IN LEIGH CREEK AND SURROUNDS

The Leigh Creek Futures report , released on 6 June, makes 30 recommendations to the State Government to maintain and revitalise the township as it transitions to an open community.

The report has been prepared based on the proposals received in response to the Request for Information – Commercial Opportunities, Leigh Creek and surrounds, in addition to prior and subsequent consultation and investigations overseen by Dr Jane Lomax-Smith.

Through the RFI, the State Government received more than 30 responses from people and organisations interested in ensuring a viable future for Leigh Creek. The ideas submitted include a range of proposals for commercial and industrial use of the mine site, use of the area’s natural mineral and renewable energy resources, as well as proposals to use the town’s existing infrastructure for commercial developments including education, training, tourism and arts.

UPPER SPENCER GULF AND OUTBACK TASKFORCE

The Upper Spencer Gulf and Outback Taskforce consists of senior executives across the public sector, and reports to Manufacturing and Innovation Minister Kyam Maher.

The work the taskforce is currently undertaking includes:

  • addressing the issues of rehabilitation, remediation, reuse and grid reliability in relation to the power stations
  • addressing the issues of rehabilitation, remediation and reuse for the Leigh Creek mine
  • assessing options on the future of the Leigh Creek township, railway and aerodrome for Government consideration
  • developing a process for managing workers with a right of return to Government.

The cross-agency taskforce is working with Alinta management and its workforce to ensure that employees receive assistance to prepare them for other employment through training.

ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE PACKAGE

The State Government announced a $7 million economic assistance package for the Upper Spencer Gulf and Outback.

The Government announced the following support initiatives on 19 August 2015:

  • $258,000 for Regional Job Creation Grants in Port Augusta
  • $258,000 for Regional Job Creation Grants in Whyalla
  • $258,000 to support the ongoing viability of Leigh Creek
  • $225,000 to support Upper Spencer Gulf and Outback supply chain workers.

The Government also announced that it would provide, through the Department of State Development, $240,000 to Regional Development Australia (RDA) Far North to help deliver career and job services in the region.

SUPPORT FOR WORKERS

The State Government, working in partnership with Alinta Energy, will support workers by:

  • providing dedicated career advisors who will support them to develop resumes, job applications and tailored career plans
  • identifying training providers that can support them to undertake the training identified in their career plans.
  • providing funds to assist in the training identified in the individual’s career plan.

This work aligns with the State Government’s WorkReady training and jobs strategy which aims to ensure the training on offer responds to the transformation of the state’s economy. One stream of the strategy is designed for people who are currently employed but who are seeking to improve their skills or reskill for another industry.

The Upper Spencer Gulf and Outback Community Engagement Team was established to provide immediate support to the community and Alinta employees.

As a result of the engagement work undertaken, a report responding to the needs of the community is now available. Download the report (PDF 1.8 MB).

The report outlines the outcomes of the engagement process and forms part of the broader State Government’s commitment to work closely with these regions as mining in Leigh Creek comes to an end and it begins its transition to a post-mining future.

The Government’s engagement with the community has now transitioned to relevant organisations, including the Outback Communities Authority, for general enquiries about Leigh Creek and the Upper Spencer Gulf, and the Office of the Commissioner for Public Employment for the Alinta workforce with right to return to Government.

What is the future of the Leigh Creek township?

The State Government will support Leigh Creek to remain open for business beyond July 2018 providing essential services for about 700 people both in the town and surrounding communities.

Negotiations between the State Government and Alinta are continuing for handback to government to occur from January 2017.  Government has asked the Outback Communities Authority (OCA)  to take over operational management of Leigh Creek from this time with essential services and buildings to be maintained, including those for commercial use such as the caravan park and tavern, which will be offered through an Expression of Interest process to operators in the second half of 2016.

Maintenance of essential town services and assets includes water, wastewater, roads and aerodrome and municipal services such as the rubbish dump, footpaths, parks and gardens, barbecues, public toilets, street lighting and other recreational facilities including the swimming pool, ovals, gymnasium, and sports stadium.

Current Leigh Creek residents will be encouraged to stay in the town with the intention to lease or sell housing to new residents by 1 January 2018. Of the current housing stock, some dwellings are intended to be kept and upgraded for current use, other dwellings to be retained for future use and depending on future demand there will be a progressive program to demolish unrequired dwellings.

30 recommendations have been made to the State Government to maintain and revitalise the township which are outlined in a report released  by former South Australian Education and Tourism Minister Jane Lomax-Smith, who led the Request for Information process.

Manufacturing and Innovation Minister Kyam Maher made the announcement in Leigh Creek on 6 June to support the community affected by the closure of Alinta Energy’s Leigh Creek coal mine.

The Government will appoint a Transition Manager to develop commercial and marketing opportunities in the town and region, and continue to consider the recommendations in the report.