Leigh Creek Open Cut Coal Mine - PHOTOGRAPHER COMMENT
Leigh Creek Open Cut Coal Mine lookout with old Bucyrus Erie walking dragline and mine truck
Leigh Creek Open Cut Coal Mine - FURTHER INFORMATION
Leigh Creek Open Cut Coal Mine - Leigh Creek visitor guide showing a virtual tour of 'Leigh Creek Open Cut Coal Mine' linked to an interactive map with local and travel information. 360° panoramas from South Australia.
Leigh Creek is an open cut coal-mining town in the north of South Australia, 567km north of Adelaide, on the edge of the desert, west of the northern Flinders Ranges. Because the entire town was moved 13km south in 1982 to allow expansion of the mine, most buildings are just over twenty years old.
The area was named Leigh Creek after its first settler, Harry Leigh, in 1856. Although coal was discovered in 1888 by John Henry Reid during the sinking of a railway dam in the Leigh Creek area, it was not until 1940 when coal supplies became critically low because of the Second World War that Leigh Creek coal was considered again. The deposits seemed extensive and extracting the coal by open cut methods was considered feasible. Exploratory boring started in 1941 and plans were made to develop the first open cut mine. Excavation started in 1943 under the control of the Engineering & Water Supply Department. It was apparent that the electricity supply industry would be the largest user of Leigh Creek coal so control of the coalfield was transferred to the Electricity Trust of South Australia (ETSA) in 1948.
The black coal mined from an open cut mine is transported 250 km by probably the longest coal train in the world of about 3km length with 161 wagons of 100 gross tonnes to power stations outside Port Augusta on the east side of the top of Spencer Gulf. The use of large excavating machines and efficient mining equipment at Leigh Creek, together with the rebuilding of a railway line between Leigh Creek and Port Augusta by the Commonwealth Railways (later Australian National, now Pacific National), resulted in economic production and delivery of coal to the power station.
Massive restructuring of mining operations in the 90s resulted in the reduction of a workforce of over 750 to about 200 and the township shrunk from about 2500 in '87 to less than 700 today.
Despite the big scars that the coal mine is creating in the environment, Leigh Creek is also known for one of the best examples of environmental rehabilitation in Australia, the Aroona Sanctuary. The lands of the sanctuary were badly degraded by erosion and native vegetation was depleted by rabbits, feral goats and horses. Today the area supports a diverse range of native plants and wildlife which includes yellow-footed rock-wallabies released from a breeding program at Monarto Zoological Park in South Australia
Leigh Creek SA 5731
phone: 1800 633 060