Leigh Creek facts for kids

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Leigh Creek
South Australia
Population: 549
Postcode: 5731
Time zone:

 • Summer (DST)

ACST (UTC+9:30)

ACDT (UTC+10:30)

LGA: Outback Communities Authority
State District: Electoral district of Stuart
Federal Division: Grey
Localities around Leigh Creek:
Myrtle Springs Myrtle Springs
Copley
Copley
Puttapa Leigh Creek North Moolooloo
Puttapa Puttapa
North Moolooloo
North Moolooloo

Leigh Creek (formerly Leigh's Creek) is a coal-mining town in eastern central South Australia. At the 2006 census, Leigh Creek had a population of 549.

Situated to the west of the northern Flinders Ranges, the current town is 13 km further south than the original town—it was moved in 1982 to allow the expansion of the mine. As a result, most facilities and buildings in the town are only a little over thirty years old, and with relatively modern designs.

The mine and associated railway station are named Telford.

History

The area was named Leigh's Creek after its first settler, Harry Leigh, in 1856. Coal was discovered and small quantities mined from 1888 from an underground mine. The town to support the mine at that time was called Copley, after William Copley, an MP and Commissioner of Crown Lands. However the coal was not mined in a significant commercial manner until 1943 in an effort to make South Australia more self-sufficient for its energy needs, with less dependence on New South Wales. The premier Thomas Playford saw the need to be seen not to rely on interstate energy if he was to attract business to South Australia.

Coal mine

The current open cut mine operation is for low-grade, sub-bituminous black coal which is frequently referred to as hard brown coal or just brown coal. It is transported 250 km by rail to power stations outside Port Augusta on the east side of Spencer Gulf. The coal occurs in several nested bowl-shaped seams, each several metres thick. The coalfield at Leigh Creek is operated by the Alinta Energy and currently produces over 2.5 million tonnes a year of coal. Alinta energy also operates the power stations at Port Augusta which are the only remaining coal-fired generators in South Australia, and the only users of coal from Leigh Creek.

Downsizing and closure

Since the early 1990s, more changes occurred in Leigh Creek. Massive restructuring of mining operations resulted in the reduction of a workforce of over 750 to about 200. The township also became a lot smaller. The population dropped from about 2500 in 1987 to less than 700 today. The loss of residents also resulted in the loss of many services. A simple medical procedure may require a trip to Adelaide, which means a round trip of about 1200 km.

On 30 July 2015, Alinta Energy announced they were bringing the closure dates of all three facilities forward by 12 months, and now intended to no longer operate them past March 2017 and could shut them down as early as March 2016. On 7 October 2015, it was confirmed that the Leigh Creek mining operations would cease on 17 November 2015.

Leigh Creek Energy Project

In 2015 the media announced that another coal project at Leigh Creek was in the planning process. Leigh Creek Energy Project (LCEP), proposed by the ASX listed company Leigh Creek Energy, intends to extract gas from Leigh Creek's coal seams by drilling injection and extraction wells and igniting the coal underground using a process known as in-situ coal gasification. The company has proposed that the gas would then be exported to Australia's eastern states via existing pipeline networks. An additional plant to produce ammonium nitrate fertilizer and explosives for use in the mining sector would also be built adjacent to the coal gasification plant.

Climate

Climate data for Leigh Creek Airport
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 46.3
(115.3)
45.4
(113.7)
41.5
(106.7)
37.3
(99.1)
30.3
(86.5)
27.7
(81.9)
26.3
(79.3)
32.0
(89.6)
37.7
(99.9)
41.1
(106)
45.2
(113.4)
45.4
(113.7)
46.3
Average high °C (°F) 35.5
(95.9)
34.5
(94.1)
31.1
(88)
26.2
(79.2)
20.9
(69.6)
17.0
(62.6)
16.6
(61.9)
19.1
(66.4)
23.2
(73.8)
26.7
(80.1)
30.5
(86.9)
33.0
(91.4)
26.19
(79.15)
Average low °C (°F) 20.7
(69.3)
20.4
(68.7)
17.3
(63.1)
12.9
(55.2)
8.7
(47.7)
5.4
(41.7)
4.7
(40.5)
6.1
(43)
9.3
(48.7)
12.4
(54.3)
16.1
(61)
18.6
(65.5)
12.72
(54.89)
Record low °C (°F) 11.0
(51.8)
10.5
(50.9)
6.7
(44.1)
2.2
(36)
-0.7
(30.7)
-1.7
(28.9)
-2.4
(27.7)
-1.2
(29.8)
0.9
(33.6)
2.5
(36.5)
6.1
(43)
8.6
(47.5)
-17.8
Precipitation mm (inches) 20.2
(0.795)
28.7
(1.13)
20.3
(0.799)
13.1
(0.516)
16.1
(0.634)
17.2
(0.677)
17.4
(0.685)
15.6
(0.614)
18.3
(0.72)
18.6
(0.732)
19.0
(0.748)
24.2
(0.953)
228.7
(9.004)
Avg. precipitation days 3.4 3.0 2.7 2.6 4.0 5.1 6.6 4.8 4.8 4.4 4.7 4.1 50.2

In popular culture

Leigh Creek Road is referred to in the John Schumann song of the same name on his 1993 album True Believers.

Leigh Creek: An Oasis in the Desert, Flinders Ranges Research 1997 (Nic Klaassen) Parliamentary Research Manager, Dr John Weste, March 2011. Leigh Creek Heritage, R Cameron Wilton. Brown, Mines of South Australia, p. 346 Leigh Creek Manager, R Cameron Wilton, 2011-2012, Leigh Creek Town Manager, Robert Stack, 2013-current

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