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Burragorang is said to be a name derived from the local aboriginal word Burru for kangaroo and Gang for hunt. Aboriginals were able to hunt kangaroos and the other abundant wildlife in this relatively secluded valley.

The Burragorang Valley is over 80 km long and its width varies between 3 km and 16 km. It was carved out over millions of years by water erosion from the Nattai, Wollondilly and Coxs Rivers. This erosion caused underlying coal seams to be exposed in the valley walls.

The first historical reference to discovery of coal in the valley by Europeans was in 1806 in a letter written by George Caley who was retracing the route taken by Francis Barrallier’s previous expedition. In 1818 Sir John Jamieson led an exploration party into the valley and reported that “good burning coal and some limestone were discovered.”

A recognised geologist, the Reverend W. B. Clarke reported on coal found in the valley to the Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London 1866.

In 1893 Government geologist, Mr E. F. Pittman, travelled to the valley to inspect a coal seam which a syndicate intended to prospect by diamond drilling. His report included a seam section of the 1.8m seam. The coal seam was sampled and found to consist of “good steam-coal”.[1]

About the year 1895, the first coal produced in the Burragorang Valley came from a small mine in the Upper Burragorang near the old Wollondilly Hotel. This small colliery was operated by a blacksmith, Mr Isaac Sant, who used the coal for blacksmithing purposes.

In 1924 government geologist Mr L. F. Harper reported on the coal seams found in the Burragorang Valley and included a coal analysis by the departmental laboratory. In 1925 consulting geologist to Broken Hill Pty. Ltd. Company Mr J. M. Morris, prospected in the Burragorang area.

BHP Prospecting Tunnel in a Cliff Face near a Waterfall
Source: J. Brown, Clinton Collection. This prospecting tunnel was driven into a cliff face in 1925 in the vicinity of the Wollondilly No.1 Colliery which opened in the 1930s.

Bulk samples of coal were mined in prospecting tunnels by two miners, working under the instructions of Mr Charles Kemp. Coal mined from the prospecting, was bagged and transported out of the Burragorang Valley by truck and then analysed for coal quality. The Consulting Geologist reported the existence of a very good seam (the Bulli Seam), of workable thickness throughout the area. However, the BHP Company did not consider mining would be worthwhile at that time, due to transport difficulties caused by the poor quality of roads in the Burragorang area, at that time.

Coal in bags from BHP Prospecting being transported on truck with solid tyres
Source: J. Brown – Clinton Collection. The truck owner/driver pictured is Mr Foster Davis.

The significant coalmining pioneers of the Burragorang Valley were the Fox and Clinton families. Eventually larger Companies invested in mechanisation and took over the mining from these family run operations. All of the larger collieries in the Burragorang Valley, worked the Bulli Seam.

An unusual feature of coal mining in the Burragorang Valley was the access road to the three collieries called Valley 1, Valley 2 and Valley 3. On this access road, vehicles drove on the right hand side of the winding road, that was cut into the steep mountainside of the Nattai Mountain. At the top of the descent into that area of the valley, vehicles would obey the signs directing traffic to cross to the right hand side of the road for the descent. At the bottom of the descent, vehicles would obey the signs directing traffic to cross over to the left hand side of the road again. The same requirement applied to ascending vehicles. It is one of the few locations in Australia, where vehicles drove on the right hand side of the road.

The reason for doing this was to ensure that the heavy weight of loaded trucks hauling coal out of the valley, was close to the cliff face, and the strongest part of the road. The much lighter empty trucks descending the mountain road were on the weaker edge of that road, that is adjacent to the drop into the valley.

Section of road in to Burragorang Valley known as “The Bluff”
J. Brown-Clinton Collection Truck Owner/Driver Foster Davis.

In 1947, the first electric power supply line were constructed into the valley. This enabled the progressive mechanisation of the mines, and the installation of coal cutters, trackless loading machines, battery shuttle cars and conveyor belts.

The mining process was still what is termed “conventional mining” with shotholes drilled in the face and loaded with explosives. The use of a coal cutting machine improved efficiency, as a cut (kerf) in the coalface, reduced the number of shotholes that had to be drilled, and reduced the quantity of explosives required, for each round of advance. After the shotfiring round was detonated, a loading machine would load the broken coal into shuttle cars that would transport the coal to the belt conveyor system. The exposed roof would then be supported and the face ventilated, ready for the next round of advance.

In later years many of the mines introduced continuous miners that removed the need to shotfire the coalface. A continuous miner machine would cut and load the coal cut from the coalface into shuttle cars, that would transport the coal to the belt conveyor system.

The last two coal mines to operate in the Burragorang Valley were the Oakdale Colliery, that closed in 1999, and Brimstone No.1 Colliery that closed in 2000.

By the end of 1975, a total of 74 million tonnes of coal had been mined from the Burragorang Valley and by the end of 2000 almost 133 million tonnes had been mined.[1]

A Burragorang Valley Miners Memorial has been constructed at the Burragorang Valley Lookout. One of the multiple plaques at this site states: “This monument commemorates the contribution of the people in the coal mining industry, in the Burragorang Valley”.

The Burragorang Valley Miners Memorial
Memorial website:
Mr J. E. Clinton Ford truck, purchased 1935, Hauling Coal Nattai to Camden
Source: “The History of Mining and Washing in the Burragorang Valley,” Sada Group, 2001.
Location Map of Collieries and Washeries in the Burragorang Valley District in 1972
Joint Coal Board Annual Report, 1972, p. 286.

The following information provides a summary on each of the Collieries that operated in the Burragorang Valley.

Nattai-Bulli Colliery

The original name for this mine that commenced in 1930, was “Camden Colliery” and the mine opened and closed several times. In 1932, the Nattai-Bulli syndicate was formed, and the mine re-opened again, was renamed “Camden Bulli” then changed to the Nattai-Bulli Colliery, with the official owner of the mine in 1934 being the Nattai-Bulli Coal Company Ltd.[1]

In 1935 the Clinton family purchased a second hand truck, and converted it into a winch that pulled the full skips from the mine using a wire rope. In 1937 two electrically powered coal cutters were purchased, along with a second hand diesel generator, to provide a increased source of electric power. In 1938 another coal loader was obtained, and a diesel alternator was purchased to meet the additional demand for electric power.

In 1938 the Nattai-Bulli Lodge, representing the coalminers working at the colliery, was expelled from the Miners Federation, (union) for installing a coal cutter and loader which was against Federation policy at that time. [2] Despite their expulsion fron the Union, the miners continued working.

In 1940, a fire destroyed the power generators installed at that time and a Bellis and Morcom power generating package was purchased along with a steam Boiler.

Pillar extraction commenced in 1944, using an electric coal cutter and electric coal loader. The loader filled coal into skips hauled by horses. Previous to the introduction of pillar extraction, only solid workings (tunnels) had been mined, and that left the coal pillars to support the roof. Using the solid workings only, system of mining, the percentage of the coal extracted was low and wasteful of a valuable coal resource.The extraction of the remaining pillars increases the percentage of the coal taken from the seam.

In 1943, the Nattai-Bulli Lodge was readmitted into the Miners Federation, the miners were each fined £6 pounds, and barred from holding a Lodge position, for 12 months. [3] In 1945 a Bathhouse was built at the colliery in 1945, enabling the coalminers to change and Shower before going home.

In 1948 the Mines Department was notified that the official owner of the mine had changed to the Clintons Nattai Collieries Pty Ltd. [4]

Nattai-Bulli Coalminers circa 1932
Their names are: William Clinton, William Parkinson, Ernest Clinton, Jack Clinton, Robert Mathews, Thomas Barass and John Comensoli. Source: “The History of Mining and Washing in the Burragorang Valley,” Sada Group, 2001.
The Nattai-Bulli Colliery surface buildings in the 1950s
Source: “The History of Mining and Washing in the Burragorang Valley,” Sada Group, 2001.
Nattai-Bulli Colliery looking from the Burragorang Lookout
Source: R. Faber collection.
Industrial Meeting of Nattai-Bulli Miners at Camden Showground 24th May 1982
Source: “Nattai-Bulli Colliery 50th Anniversary” Booklet.

The first continuous miner machine was introduced in 1948, and conveyor belts were installed to transport coal to the surface. All of the Pit horses were retired from the colliery in 1948, except for one, used to transport supplies within the colliery.

In 1954 Ratio Feeders were installed at the receiving end of the panel conveyor belts. The Ratio Feeder regulated the flow of coal unloaded from the Shuttle Car onto the conveyor belt. This enabled the Shuttle cars to discharge their load quickly, and return to the coalface for reloading.

In 1955 samples of coal mined in the area were sent to the consortium of Japanese Steel Mills and in 1959 a Coal Preparation Plant was constructed adjacent to the Glenlee rail sidings, and twelve trial shipments of washed coking coal were exported to Japan. This proved to be successful, and in 1960 the Clintons Nattai Collieries Pty Ltd Company, signed a five-year contract for the supply of coal, to the Japanese Steel Mills.

In 1961 the Clinton family sold its mining interest in Nattai-Bulli Colliery to the Rio Tinto Mining Company. In 1965, the Rio Tinto Collieries Pty Ltd Company sold its interests to Universe Tankships Incorporated which became the parent company of Clutha Development Pty Ltd.Company.

In 1965, a new Bathhouse was constructed, and the miners were provided with waist belts to carry their Cap Lamps.

In 1974 the Nattai-Bulli mines Rescue team won the Southern District Mines Rescue Competition.

Each colliery is required by legislation, to have its own mines rescue team consisting of, between five and eight men regularly trained in Mines Rescue and the wearing of Self-contained Breathing Apparatus. This apparatus enables a Mines Rescue Team to work in an irrespirable atmosphere.

To improve the standard of Mine Rescue teams in the Burragorang Valley, the Clutha Development Pty Ltd Company conducted its own Annual mines rescue team competition called the Clutha Cup. The winning of an Annual Southern District Mines Rescue Competition proved that the Burragorang Valley Rescue teams were among the best in the southern coalfield.

In 1975, steel roof-bolts and roof-straps were introduced as roof support, and in 1976 an underground surge bin was installed. This surge bin evened out coal flow onto the trunk conveyor belt system to the surface, and increased the production capability of the colliery.

In 1980 the compressed air driven, “percussive” jack hammer type roof bolting machines were replaced with compressed air driven, hand held roof bolting units. These rotary roof drilling and bolt setting units were compressed air driven, much quieter, and more efficient. 

In 1981, all of the battery powered Locomotives were replaced, with a fleet of rubber tyred transport vehicles powered by diesel engines. This provided greater flexibility as these transport vehicles were not confined to mine roadways, where rail track had been laid.

The Nattai-Bulli Colliery was closed in 1992, having produced over 23 million tonnes of coal.

Tonalli Oil Shale Mine

In 1862, oil shale (aka kerosene shale) was discovered in the upper Burragorang Valley by an early settler named Henry Chiddy, when he ploughed up a loose block of shale in a flat area on the north bank of Tonalli River, and realised the inflammable nature of the oil shale when he used the block, to prop up a burning log.

The Reverend W. B. Clarke and Mr W. Keene, both eminent Geologists, visited the site shortly after the discovery, and found “white and blue Shales with glossopteris”[1] in a dry creek bed near the junction of the Tonalli and the Wollondilly Rivers. They did not however, locate an outcrop of the oil shale seam.

In 1888, outcrops of the deposit were found by Mr C. Hill, at an elevation of approximately 1,060 ft (323 m) above the Tonalli River. However, no Shale mining took place until World War Two, some fifty years after the discovery.

In August 1941, Mr W. J. McDonald was granted a mining leasefor an area of 160 acres (65 ha) and Shale mining was conducted on a small scale, by Clintons Nattai Collieries Pty Ltd. [2]

The winding drum of the winch used as motor the incline haulage, was driven by a stationary engine salvaged from an International motor truck. [3] It is apparent, that a tramway was built between the mine adit (entrance) and the top of the incline, andevidence of timber infrastructure for this purpose, is provided by the photograph below, taken circa 1945.

Notification to the Mines Department that Tonalli mine had opened, was submitted in September 1942. Two miners who worked the mine, Joe Deacon and Irvin King, made statements years afterwards, describing their working environment while working the mine for Mr George Griffiths, who was the mine manager of Nattai-Bulli Colliery, at that time. These men drove two tunnels 500 ft (150 m) in length, with a connection driven between them, and relied on natural sunlight entering the mine for lighting, as the mine owner would not supply safety cap lamps.

Shot-holes were drilled 6 ft (1.8 m) into the face, with one miner holding a percussive drill steel, while the other hit it with a sledgehammer. The shot-holes were loaded with explosives and fired (detonated) by Joe Deacon, using an Exploder device. After the face was fired the men loaded the shale into a single skip, and a horse pulled the skip that ran on wooden rails inside the mine, to the surface. Trees were cut from the surrounding bush, and used for roof support in the mine. The above mens Camp was located down the mountain, where there was a water supply, and the they brought sufficient food with them to their Camp each week, to last them for the week.

The Incline built for shale haulage at the Tonalli Oil Shale Mine
Source: R. Driscoll, circa 1945.

In correspondence, commencing in 1942, between the Inspector of Mines, Mr C. H. Lorriman and Mr W. Clinton, representing the mine owner, Clintons Nattai Collieries Pty Ltd, it is evident that there was no permanent means of ventilating the mine, such as a furnace or ventilation fan, and the mine owner had not supplied safety lamps, for the use of employees.[1] The lack of a permanent means of ventilation was in contravention of General Rule 1 of the Coal Mines Regulation Act, 1912, and in March 1944 the Inspector of Mines, Mr Lorriman, conducted an underground inspection of the mine, and issued a letter to Mr George Griffiths, in regard to the above non-compliances. It is evident that the mine was not “closed,” as a subsequent inspection in July 1944 by Inspector of Mines Mr Lorriman, found that the one of the tunnels had been driven another 75 ft (23 m) and the shale band at the face appeared to be thinning.

Timber Infrastructure at Tonalli Oil Shale Mine
Source: R. Driscoll, circa 1945.

Construction of a ventilation furnace to provide a permanent means of  ventilation was completed in September 1944, however, the shale band at the face of the left hand tunnel had thinned to 14 inches (36 cm).

In February 1945 a Notice of discontinuance was submitted, however, within a month a notice of reopening was lodged. The shale band at the face of the above mentioned tunnel, hadthinned to 12 inches (30 cm) and the mine was abandoned. The shale band in the face of the remaining tunnel was 2 ft 3 inches (69 cm) thick.

In July 1946 a formal notification of abandonment was received by the Mines Department. The Abandonment plan, prepared by Surveying Company “J K Curdie, Kent & Curdie” of Sydney, is listed in Mines Department records as record tracing RT115 and was lodged in November 1946,[1] and the Lease for the mine, was terminated in February 1947.[2]

In 1959 road access to the mine along the Valley floor, was cut off by the rising water level as Warragamba Dam filled. The site is isolated and within a “Prohibited Entry Area” of the Sydney Water Catchment.

Wollondilly No.1 Colliery

This colliery opened in 1930 under the name Oakleigh Colliery. There was a change of owner in 1931 and in 1932, and the name was changed to Wollondilly No.1 Colliery. The mine ceased operations in 1933, due to lack of wage payments to the employees, and recommenced again in 1934, with a different sublease holder.

In 1940 the coal leases were sold by Wollondilly Bulli Collieries Pty Ltd Company to the Botany Carbonisers Pty Ltd Company and were transferred in the same year to Burragorang Collieries Pty Ltd Company, whose Directors were Mr Stan Fox and Mrs. Millie Fox.

After the nearby Wollondilly Extended Colliery was opened, the Wollondilly No.1 Colliery was unofficially known as Old Wollondilly and the Little Pit, by locals.

Wollondilly Coalminers
Source: K. Hatherly.

In 1946 the first electrically driven ventilation fan was installed, and in 1952 the mine was mechanised, using a coal cutter and trackless loading machine and a scraper chain haulage system. The scraper chain haulage system was found to be unsuitable, and was replaced in 1954, with conveyor belts. In the same year, Battery powered shuttle cars were introduced, to transport the coal from the loading machines, to the conveyor belt system.

Wollondilly miners in Shuttle Car
Source: K. Hatherly.
Timber roof support at entrance of an underground roadway at Wollondilly Colliery
Source: K. Hatherly.
Wollondilly Colliery truck loading bin
Source: K. Hatherly.

In 1956 cable reel shuttle cars and continuous miners were installed and replaced the earlier coal cutter, coal loader and battery powered shuttle cars. The continuous miners cut the coal at the coalface, and the cable reel shuttle cars transported the coal from the continuous miner, to the conveyor belt system.

In 1960 Mr Stan Fox sold the mining interests that he had controlled for twenty years, to Placer Development Pty Ltd. who sold their Company in 1965, to Universe Tankships Incorporated, the parent Company of Clutha Development Pty Ltd.

Wollondilly No.1 Colliery was closed in 1980, having produced over 6.5 million tonnes of coal.

Wollondilly Extended Colliery (later named Nattai North Colliery)

In 1935, this mine commenced operations with the name Metropolitan Cement Colliery. The next year the name was changed to Wollondilly Extended Colliery, and from the year 1940, the mine was operated by Mr Stan Fox.

In 1947 a new pit top was established approximately 800 metres to the north of the original entry. In the same year overhead electric power lines leading in to the Burragorang Valley were erected. The colliery was mechanised with conveyor belts, coal cutters, trackless loaders, battery powered shuttle cars and battery chargers. Although electric borers provided the rotation to drill shot-holes, it required two miners pushing on the electric borer to achieve good penetration rates. Cable reel shuttle cars were introduced in 1956 to replace the battery powered shuttle cars.

This mine was also included in the sale by Mr Stan Fox of the Wollondilly No.1 Mine to Placer Development Pty Ltd in 1960.

Miners Drilling Shot-holes in the Coalface
Source: R. Faber, photo dated 1955. The miners are Alf Cox and Cecil Pauley.

A Coal Preparation Plant (washery) was constructed in 1960 on the plateau above the colliery in the Valley, to meet the quality demands of the export market. This Plant and became known as the Wollondilly Washery.

The late Mr Jack Eldridge was the Engineer in Charge of the design and construction of the mountain conveyor system, installed to convey the coal produced from the colliery, to the Wollondilly Washery on the plateau above. The belt conveyor system was erected in a zig-zag pattern on the steep mountainside, separating the Burragorang Valley and the mine, from the Coal Preparation Plant. A truly great engineering achievement, by the late Mr Jack Eldridge.

Mountain Conveyors raised coal from Wollondilly Colliery to the Wollondilly Washery
Source: Clutha Development.
Wollondilly Coal Preparation Plant (under construction)
Source: “The History of Mining and Washing in the Burragorang Valley,” Sada Group, 2001.

The Wollondilly Extended Colliery retained that name until it was closed due to industrial problems[1] in 1973, only to be reopened in 1974 and renamed the Nattai North Colliery.

Nattai North locomotive hauling two man transport carriages
Source: C. Reeves – Driver of the locomotive.

Tongarra Seam Workings

In addition to mining the Bulli seam, Nattai North Colliery opened a small mine in the Tongarra seam. [1] It was officially known as Nattai North No.2 Colliery, however, it became known unofficially by the miners that worked at the mine as the Tongawilly Colliery.

The seam thickness was approximately 36 inches (0.9 m) and the mine closed after several years due to poor coal quality. These workings were opened in September 1976, and closed again in June 1979. This mine was one of the rare instances, where no other seam than the Bulli seam was worked in the Burragorang Valley.

The Nattai North Colliery closed in 1988 with its coal reserves exhausted, having produced over 28 million tonnes of coal.

Wollondilly Washery continued to process coal produced from other Burragorang Valley collieries, until June 2001.

Aerial view of the Wollondilly Washery and the Burragorang Valley
Source: “The History of Mining and Washing in the Burragorang Valley,” Sada Group, 2001.

The Wollondilly Coal Preparation Plant processed approximately 80 million tonnes of coal during its 41 years of operation.

Oakdale Colliery

This colliery holding was established in 1948 by the State Coal Mines Control Board, later known as the State Mines Control Authority, and was initially named the Burragorang State Coal Mine. In 1950, a name change was gazetted as it being named the Oakdale State Coal Mine.  As an alternative, and perhaps much cheaper means of entry by tunnelling in from the coal seam outcrop on the surface, Shafts were sunk to provide the entries to the mine.

The depth from the surface of the Bulli seam was 389 m at the site selected for the first Shaft. Sinking of the No.1 Shaft commenced in February 1952, and was completed in April 1956, with a depth to the bottom of the sump of 424 m. It was a concrete lined Shaft with a finished internal diameter of 6.7 m. No.1 Shaft was an upcast Shaft, with a ventilation fan installed on the surface. A Personnel winder on this Shaft provided a secondary means of access to the mine.

A second Shaft was sunk for winding coal to the surface in skips, and for transporting personnel and materials in and out of the mine. This No.2 Shaft was a downcast Shaft, that provided fresh intake air into the colliery, for ventilation.

The State Mines Control Authority sold the mine to Clutha Development Pty Ltd in January 1969, and the colliery was renamed the Oakdale Colliery.

Miners in the cage (lift) at Oakdale No.1 Shaft
Source: B. Farrell.
Oakdale No.2 Shaft
Source: H. Horsley.
Surface Skip Handling area – Oakdale No.2 Shaft
Source: H. Horsley.

In the 1980s, the methods adopted for roof support changed from timber props and wooden roof bars to Roof Bolts and Steel W shaped, roof support straps.

Installing Roof Bolts and W-straps for Roof Support
Source: L. Langenberg.

The extraction of Pillars required the use of three caterpiller mounted mobile hydraulic roof supports, called “Breaker line supports” (BLS), as opposed to setting wooden props, to control the collapse of roof, into the goaf.

Breaker Line Supports – Pillars Extraction
Source: G. Morrison.

Towards the final years of its operating life, Oakdale Colliery introduced longwall mining, following the results of a Feasibility Study, conducted in 1993.

A “Trial build’’ of Oakdale Colliery Longwall, on the surface
Source: B. Dunk, Mechanical Engineer.

The photo above shows the “trial build” of the longwall equipment, before its installation underground. The hydraulic chock roof supports are shownin position, and the longwall shearer ready for the cutting drums to be installed, on the ranging arms (see brown protective wrapping).

Deputy inspecting the Longwall Face
Source: G. Morrison, 1994.

Oakdale Colliery closed in 1999, having produced over 22 million tonnes of coal.

Valley No.1 Colliery

Mining commenced in 1957 to work a low height section of the Bulli coal seam, approximately 1.2 m (4 ft) thickness. The colliery used second hand machinery purchased from Glen Davis shale mine in the Capertee Valley, and was comprised of coal cutters and loaders, and battery shuttle cars.

With the Warragamba Dam completed in 1958, the rising stored water level created Lake Burragorang, and water covered the original Nattai River Bridge. An old road through Sheahy Creek was restored, to allow truck transport of the coal mined to continue, until a new concrete bridge was constructed over the Nattai River in 1959.

In 1961, the Rio Tinto Mining Company purchased this colliery along with all of Clinton families other mining interests, in the Burragorang Valley.

Continuous miners and cable-reel shuttle cars were introduced by the new owner in 1962.

The NSW Mines Department records show that Valley 1 Colliery amalgamated with the existing workings of Valley 2 Colliery to become a single entity called Valley 1 Colliery, in 1966.[1]

With the coal reserves worked out, the colliery closed in 1974, having produced in excess of 5.6 million tonnes of coal.

Lake Burragorang
(created after Warragamba Dam filled this section of the Valley)
Source: C. Taylor.

Valley No.2 Colliery

This colliery opened in 1960 working a low height coal seam of approximately 1.2 m (4 ft). A new system of mining was trialled using Porta Belts. These were 9 m in length sections of belt conveyor, mounted on rubber tyres to enable each conveyor, to be readily relocated. A series of these short conveyors were used to transport the coal from the face to the main belt conveyor system. The Porta Belt system as it was known was abandoned, due to technical difficulties.

Later in 1960 mining ceased, due to coal quality issues combined with a cliff slide, that damaged the pit top area.

In 1965, a new entry was developed to start a new colliery. The mining equipment comprised continuous miners and cable reel shuttle cars, designed for use in a low height coal seam.

Production continued until the coal reserves were exhausted in 1982. The Valley No.2 Colliery produced a total of 5.3 million tonnes of coal over its operating life

Valley No.3 Colliery

With Valley No.1 Colliery about to run out of its coal reserves, 8 km of new road was constructed in the Nattai Valley to develop a new colliery to the south of Valley No.2 Colliery, during 1970-71.

The mine opened 1971, in a low height 4 ft (1.2 ms) section of the Bulli Seam. The production machines were Continuous Miners and Cable Reel Shuttle Cars.

A Mine Entrance – Valley 3 Colliery
Source: A. Hubscher.

The Valley No.3 Colliery closed in 1984 having produced over 3.6 million tonnes of coal.

Brimstone No.1 Colliery

Clutha Development Pty Ltd opened this colliery in 1968. Tunnels were driven in from the outcrop in the valley to gain initial access, and commence production, until a Drift entry was completed. The Drift was driven from the surrounding plateau to the seam, on a grade of 1 in 3.4 and a Drift winder was installed for man riding and material transport. The Drift was completed in 1973 and the colliery was officially opened that year. [1]

Incline Drift Conveyor and Truck Loading Bin – Brimstone No.1 Colliery
Source: R. Faber

The Bulli coal seam height varied from 1.8 m to 3.2 ms, with an average height of approximately 2.1ms, with the depth from the surface to the seam varying from 270 m to 360 m. Production machines were continuous miners and cable reel shuttle cars to transport the coal from the face, to the belt conveyor system.

Joy 8CM Continuous Miner – Brimstone No.1 Colliery
Source: B. Dunk, former Mechanical Engineer of Brimstone No.1 Colliery.
Joy 15SC Cable Reel Shuttle Car – Brimstone No.1 Colliery
Source: B. Dunk, former Mechanical Engineer of Brimstone No.1 Colliery.

The first version of the Joy Flexible Conveyor Train was trialled at the colliery to replace shuttle cars, however, it was a very complex piece of machinery, and the concept was abandoned.

Continuous Miner Delivering Coal onto the Flexible Conveyor Train
Source: R. Faber
The Flexible Conveyor Train moved along Roof Mounted Monorails
Source: R. Faber

In 1990 Brimstone Colliery installed a very successful “miniwall,” a longwall with a short face length. Moving the miniwall equipment from a completed longwall panel, to the next longwall panel to be mined could be achieved in two weeks. This is significantly shorter time, than the five or six weeks required to relocate most longwall face machinery.

Roof support Chock – Miniwall
Source: B. Dunk, former Mechanical Engineer of Brimstone No.1 Colliery.
Roof support Chocks and Armoured Face Conveyor -Miniwall
Source: B. Dunk, former Mechanical Engineer of Brimstone No.1 Colliery.
Shearer installed on the Face of No1 Miniwall
Source: B. Dunk, former Mechanical Engineer of Brimstone No.1 Colliery.

Brimstone No.1Colliery was the first colliery in Australia to design and build a towable diesel- powered Alternating Current Power Plant. The alternator provided a mobile power supply for machine relocations, as an alternative to using long lengths of electrical cables to maintain a power supply when moving mining machinery. The Brimstone No.1Colliery was the first colliery in Australia to pump hydraulic oil underground, as an alternative to transporting that oil in drums.

This colliery was the largest volume coal producer in the Burragorang Valley, with production typically exceeding 1 million tonnes per annum.

Brimstone No.1Colliery closed in 2000, having produced over 29 million tonnes of coal and was the last colliery to close in the Burragorang Valley.

Brimstone No.2 Colliery

Clutha Development Pty Ltd opened this colliery in 1969. Tunnels were driven in from the outcrop in the valley to gain initial access, and commence production.

A combined coal haulage and transport Drift being driven from the plateau to the seam on a grade of 1 in 3.4, was completed in 1972. A belt conveyor was installed in the Drift for coal haulage and a Drift winder was installed for man riding and materials transport.

The production machines installed were continuous miners and cable reel shuttle cars, with the latter transporting the coal from the face to the Panel and Trunk conveyor systems. Diesel powered rubber tyred machines were used, for the transport of Personnel and Materials.

The average Bulli coal seam height varied from 1.5 m to 2.1 m, and the surface cover varied from 330 m to 400 m. The geology encountered in the Seam included dykes, faults and sills and when combined with the low seam height, gave rise to difficult mining conditions.

Gantry – Brimstone No.2 Colliery Drift Entry
Source: L. Wright, former Joint Coal Board Mining Engineer.
Aerial View of Brimstone No.2 Colliery
Source: Clutha Development.

Brimstone No.2Colliery closed in 1982, having produced almost 8 million tonnes of coal, and the remaining area of the mines coal lease was transferred to, the Brimstone No.1 Colliery.

Sketch showing a geological cross section of the Burragorang Valley area
J. W. Brown “History and Development of Coal Mining in the Burragorang Valley Area”, The AusIMM Conference, Illawarra, May 1976, p. 31.

Glenlee Washery

In 1959 this Coal Preparation Plant (CPP) was erected adjacent to railway sidings at Glenlee, south of Campbelltown. This Plant processes coal from other mines, and is owned and operated by the Sada Company.

The Glenlee CPP soon after completion in 1959
Source: K. Timbs.
The Glenlee Coal Preparation Plant and Stockpile areas
Source: “The History of Mining and Washing in the Burragorang Valley,” Sada Group, 2001.

[1] Brimstone No.1 Colliery was officially opened by MP. Mr Wal Fife on 1st August 1973.

[1] B. J. Andrews “Coal Mines of NSW’’ p. 464.

[1] The mine plan, called a record tracing, lodged with the NSW Mines Department is labelled RT751.

[1] “Of Mines and Men – The stories of the miners of the Wollondilly Mines,” The Oaks Historical Society at the Wollondilly Heritage Centre, 1995, p. 13.

[1] Tonalli Colliery – State Archives – Colliery Holding Files 19/1316.

[2] J. Longworth “Tonalli River Incline” Light Railways magazine, January 1991, p. 16.

[1] Tonalli Colliery – State Archives – Colliery Holding Files 19/1316.

[1] Rev. W. B. Clarke, Report providing a description of the location and his findings, circa 1863.

[2] The ML3 lease is in the Parish of Wingecarribee, County of Westmoreland.

[3] J. Longworth “Tonalli River Incline” Light Railways magazine, January 1991, p. 15.

[1] B. J. Andrews “Coal Mines of New South Wales” 2011, p. 306.

[2] “Of Mines and Men – The stories of the miners of the Wollondilly Mines”, The Oaks Historical Society at the Wollondilly Heritage Centre, 1995, p. 14.

[3] “Of Mines and Men – The stories of the miners of the Wollondilly Mines”, The Oaks Historical Society at the Wollondilly Heritage Centre, 1995, p. 15.

[4] B J Andrews “Coal Mines of New South Wales” 2011, p. 306.

[1] Tonnages mined compiled from Joint Coal Board records by M. Freestone.

[1] NSW Mines Department Annual Report, 1893, p. 105.