Leigh Creek Coalfield

The Coalfield is situated in an arid flat plain, approximately 300km north of Port Augusta (Figure 1), at an elevation of around 200m above sea level. It is bounded by undulating low ranges (150-200m in height) 2-5km to the west and 5-10km to the east. Numerous creek beds dissect the landscape, particularly to the west. The main watercourse in the area, Leigh Creek, flows northwards through the Coalfield deposit towards Lake Eyre South.

Figure 1

For more information about the region, visit Leigh Creek Futures

Mine Closure

The Leigh Creek Mine Closure Plan addressed environmental and social risks both in relation to the areas defined by the mine leases and to neighbouring landholders and communities. The environmental and social values that have been considered in preparing the mine closure plan include the:

  • Health and safety of people
  • Sensitivity of associated ecosystems
  • Maintenance of water quality and flows in surface waterways
  • Maintenance of water quality in groundwater
  • Creation of safe, stable, non-polluting and sustainable landforms

All closure works on the Leigh Creek Mine were completed in December 2018.  From 1 January 2019, the Mine will be monitored for an agreed period.

For additional mine closure information please refer to the Department of Energy and Mining site here

Leigh Creek Mine Background

Open cut mining officially commenced in Lobe B, an area formerly known as the ‘Telford Open Cut’, in August 1943. The early years of Leigh Creek saw a dramatic increase in production from 9,000 tons per annum in 1943 to approximately 440,000 tons per annum in 1949/50.

The next stage of Leigh Creek development occurred when the Electricity Trust of South Australia took control of the Coalfield in February 1948 as part of the process of developing what is now known as the Playford A Power Station.  Mining then moved to Lobes C and D (Northfield).

Early stripping operations began on Lobe D in 1948 and Lobe C in 1963.  These deposits were mined until September 1977.

In the mid 1970’s it was decided to build a 500 megawatt power station at Port Augusta, called the Northern Power Station. That decision meant enlarging the coalfield using new methods to extract deeper coal, increasing production and building a retention dam to prevent possible flooding of the field and diverting the main highway around the coalfield. The Northern Power Station, constructed adjacent the Playford A and B Power Stations, was commissioned in 1985.

As the former Leigh Creek Town was located within the coal basin, the Electricity Trust of South Australia decided in 1976 to move the town away from the coalfield and build a new town. The site was selected 22km south at Windy Creek and plantings were established in 1977. Construction of the new town commenced in 1979 and the first house was occupied in 1980.