Leigh Creek Coalfield–Site Operator—RFQ

Background to the project

The South Australian Department for Energy and Mining (DEM) has issued a request for quote for a site operator for the Leigh Creek Coalfield (SR379). The scope of the work includes managing the risk of smoke and fire from spontaneous combustion, maintaining site access roads and landforms, training new operators, monitoring site conditions, and complying with work health and safety laws.

DEM assumed full control and management responsibility for the Leigh Creek Coalfield on 1 January 2024. Flinders Power Partnership previously managed the site  until 31 December 2023. It was responsible for a program of monitoring and maintenance following the rehabilitation works.

The Leigh Creek Coalfield was owned and operated by the South Australian Government from 1948 until it was leased to Alinta Energy in 2000. In June 2015 Alinta informed the SA Government of its decision to close the coalfield. The mine’s closure was linked to Alinta’s decision to close the Port Augusta power stations, the only customers.

Site issues at Leigh Creek Coalfield

DEM has been actively monitoring the former coalfield, and will be implementing a range of short-term strategies, including addressing spontaneous combustion outbreaks.

DEM is also developing a long-term management framework. It includes public safety, site access, maintenance, and environmental management components.

The former Leigh Creek Coalfield is not open to the public. It is a large and potentially hazardous site with steep pit walls, spontaneous combustion (noticeable from the Outback Highway or neighbouring communities), and unstable ground conditions presenting extreme risks if accessed by people lacking the appropriate induction and training. Erosion and geotechnical instability are matters that will require attention.

The RFQ

DEM acknowledges that it does not have the resources or expertise to manage operational activities at the site and, therefore, is procuring suitably qualified suppliers to maintain continuity of operations while a longer-term strategy is finalised. DEM055014

DEM’s will continue to manage spontaneous combustion, erosion, and geotechnical instability, and to manage third party access in this high-risk environment.

DEM or an appropriately qualified mining engineer will undertake a range of other site management and administrative matters.

DEM will progressively develop their in-house capacity to perform the work planning function. However, on ground site operations (e.g. spontaneous combustion treatment) will likely require external operators to be engaged.

Project specification—Leigh Creek Coalfield

If successful, the supplier (in consultation with DEM and the mining engineer) will undertake a range of on-ground site works aimed at delivering the following objectives:

  • Minimising offsite smoke and related impacts from spontaneous combustion
  • Maintaining on-site access roads
  • Implementing and maintaining a landform management program
  • Assist training of additional operators
  • Site monitoring activities as required
  • Ensuring compliance with SA Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (and regulations)

The supplier will work under the direction of a work supervisor/site operator, DEM and a mining engineer.

The RFQ asks for demonstrated experience or knowledge of

  • coalfield on-site operations
  • control of spontaneous combustion within a coalfield
  • the Leigh Creek coalfield, including the post-closure site conditions

Mandatory criteria are:

  • WHS Contractor Risk Exchange Declaration (High Risk) with supporting evidence
  • to be regionally located, ideally within 3 hours travel to enable rapid response
  • Evidence of competency for the operation of heavy earth moving equipment
  • Evidence of appropriate level of insurance

Madrigal has experience in mine management and infrastructure tenders and can assist you if you are pursuing this opportunity.