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Alinta to close Leigh Creek mine in weeks

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Alinta Energy has announced it will shut down its Leigh Creek operations within weeks, stating today the mine would close on 17 November.

Alinta Energy also announced its two Port Augusta Power Stations will close around 31 March 2016.

More than 200 workers will lose their jobs at Leigh Creek, and about another 240 will be jobless when the power stations close.

“They’re obviously quite stunned,” Australian Services Union secretary Joseph Scales told InDaily on Wednesday morning.

“Once there’s a date it becomes very frightening. Losing your job before Christmas is the worst time.”

Alinta Energy chief executive officer Jeff Dimery said the company had spoken with employees and “key stakeholders” about the closure.

“Our major focus continues to be on working closely to assist our people through this transition period.

“When we announced our intent to close Flinders Operations in June 2015, Alinta Energy committed over $3.5 million in funding to provide a suite of transitional support services to our people.

“The allocation of this funding has been split between retraining and reskilling assistance, financial advisory services, career counselling, wellbeing and human resource support, as well as Transition Centres and other job opportunity services.”

One of the Port Augusta power stations due to be closed.

One of the Port Augusta power stations due to be closed.

Scales said word of the November closure had been circulating for some months.

“We are relieved to finally have clarity around the timeframe for closure, but the hardest days for workers are ahead of them,” Scales said.

“This is real now.  Workers must now begin the difficult process of winding down work, looking for a new job, and in many cases packing up their families to move to where employment is more available.”

The ASU and other unions are in the final stages of negotiating entitlements for employees with Alinta.

“Our focus will now be on ensuring every worker receives their full entitlements and that those who have a right to return to government are offered decent work or a significant additional package to forego their right to a job for life in government,” Scales said.

Dimery said the transitional funding was in addition to the $75 million of redundancy benefits and entitlement packages that would be distributed to employees across the business.

In August, the Weatherill government announced a million-dollar support package to assist Alinta Energy’s Leigh Creek workers.

Manufacturing Minister Kyam Maher said the money would help residents who live in the purpose-built town find new jobs in the district.

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