Statement – Alinta Energy
Minister Kyam Maher
Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation
“Alinta Energy has today informed its workers that it will close the Leigh Creek coal mine on November 17, and the Port Augusta power stations around March 31 next year.
The State Government understands Alinta will begin offering redundancy packages to some of its 478 workers before the end of the month.
Our thoughts are with the workers and their families.
The Alinta workforce is our first priority, and as such we will work closely with the company and unions to ensure the workers receive all their entitlements.
132 of the workers (69 at Leigh Creek, 58 at Port Augusta, and 5 in Adelaide) have a right of return to the public sector, as a result of the former Liberal Government’s privatisation of the power stations in 1999.
The State Government will honour this commitment. Those employees have been surveyed by the government to identify their skills, preferred location, and experience so that meaningful employment can be offered to them within the public sector.
Since Alinta’s original closure announcement in June, the State Government has had people on the ground talking to communities in the Upper Spencer Gulf and Outback region about the issues likely to impact them. We will ensure this continues.
Both Premier Jay Weatherill and I have also visited the region since Alinta’s original announcement – including a visit by the Premier last week – to talk to workers, communities, and Mayors about the challenges posed by the closures.
As a result of this work, the government has announced that we will continue to provide vital services to Leigh Creek – including the Police Station, school, and hospital – until at least June 2018.
Under the terms of its lease agreement with the State Government, Alinta must also maintain Leigh Creek – including services such as water and sewerage – until July 2018.
This will also provide some certainty for surrounding communities such as Copley and Beltana, which rely on Leigh Creek for such services.
We have also provided an initial $1 million job creation and support package for the Upper Spencer Gulf and Outback region. The package includes funding for Leigh Creek and Port Augusta, as well as Whyalla, which will also be impacted by the closures.
Some residents in Leigh Creek and surrounding towns have also told us they would be interested in staying or moving into the town. Alinta is currently responsible for provision of housing, and the State Government will work with the company on options for buying or renting homes.
I have confidence that there is a positive future for the Upper Spencer Gulf and Outback region. Many people have talked to me about the opportunities that tourism, transport, and being a service hub may present.”