Mine closure FAQ

When did the mine close and why?

In June 2015 Alinta Energy informed the State Government of its business decision to close its Leigh Creek coal mine.

The mine’s closure  is linked to Alinta’s decision to close the Port Augusta power stations, which were the only customers of the coal from the mine.

Operations at the Leigh Creek mine ceased on 17 November 2015 and planning has begun for the closure of the mine site.

How will the mine be closed safely?

The Mines and Works Inspection Act 1920 provides the framework for rehabilitation and closure of the mine site.

The State Government will ensure that Alinta complies with its obligations under the leasing arrangements and under the Act regarding the safe closure and rehabilitation of the Leigh Creek mine.

A project team, with expertise in environmental risk management, mine closures and project management, will work within the regulatory frameworks to:

  • ensure that all environmental and public safety risks are properly managed
  • close the mine site to a condition that is safe and stable for future generations.

Alinta is working with the State Government to agree the appropriate staged closure process for the mine, and stages are outlined in the mine closure framework diagram.

How long will the mine closure take?

The mine closure has begun and is expected to be completed by 2019.

How is the Government ensuring the mine is closed safely?

The State Government is committed to the safety of site workers involved in the mine closure and ensuring future land use is safe for the community.

Where necessary, the State Government has commissioned external technical consultants to provide independent advice and verification on specific content within the Leigh Creek Mine Closure and Rehabilitation Plan.

The plan is an important tool to be used by Alinta, State Government regulators, and the community to monitor progress with the mine closure, with agreed timelines and measurable outcomes.

The plan will outline how the mine facilities will be decommissioned to an agreed state.

This broad scope of work includes identifying and mitigating any potential risks or issues related to public safety.

How does the Government know the mine closure won’t damage the environment?

A comprehensive assessment will identify a full range of risks and potential outcomes associated with the mine’s closure to ensure all environment, health and safety standards are met, such as the following identified environmental issues:

  • Public safety
  • Spontaneous combustion
  • Surface water management, including the retention dam
  • Infrastructure
  • Leigh Creek Waste Disposal facility

The Leigh Creek coal mine is subject to a licence issued by South Australia’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA). The mine closure plan will also include the requirements of the EPA licence.

What impact will the mine closure have on railway operations?

Trains will continue to transport coal to Port Augusta through April 2016 and the railway will remain operational after coal haulage ceases.

The lease agreement specifies how Alinta must maintain the railway before it is handed back to the State Government in 2018.

The Government is investigating potential uses of the railway line after coal haulage from the mine closes.

What is the future of the Leigh Creek mine site?

Any vision that is to be developed for the mine site must be based on a long-term safe and stable outcome for future generations.

Engagement with community and government stakeholders will help inform the closure of the mine site.

Where do I go for further information about the mine closure or/ a copy of the closure plan?

Further information will be posted on this page as it becomes available.