Mine Locomotive and Driver, Nebo Colliery
From the collection of the Minerals Heritage Subcommittee, AusIMM

Nebo Colliery was a green field site mine development in 1946 on land included as part of the purchase by Australian Iron & Steel (AIS) of the Mount Kembla Colliery with the surface buildings and mine portals located on Portions 4 and 160, Parish of Kembla, County of Camden near the site of the abandoned Pioneer Kerosene Works and adjacent to Kembla Heights.

Development of the mine commenced in the Wongawilli (or ‘No3’) seam in 1947 as a fully mechanised mining operation employing track-mounted mechanical coal loaders and coal cutters, 5 ton capacity coal skips and 10 ton battery powered locomotives.  Early in the development of the mine a geological disturbance was encountered that created adverse track haulage grades. This led to the driving of a tunnel from the workings in No3 seam to the surface, in the American Creek seam, lying below the No3 seam, to enable 25 ton diesel locomotives to haul trains of 10-ton capacity mine cars from a central assembly point underground to the surface Coal handling plant.

First Coal Being Loaded out of Nebo Colliery, 1948
From the collection of the Minerals Heritage Subcommittee, AusIMM

In 1951 mining operations were halted and some mining equipment was lost when a “creep” occurred in a section of the mine. Whilst mining operations were able to resume soon after, additional roadway support measures were adopted to halt the spread of the “Creep”. Whilst a second “creep” of smaller magnitude followed in 1952 it was quickly   recovered. A “Creep” can be described as the uncontrolled weighting of roof over a wide area of the mine, resulting in coal pillars being “crushed out” and the roof collapsing. The dimensions of the pillars, the number of headings being driven in the working panel, and the floor and roof conditions surrounding the seam, are all contributing factors in creating a Creep.

29L Jeffrey Coal Cutter, Nebo Colliery
From the collection of the Minerals Heritage Subcommittee, AusIMM

The mine operations commenced using Jeffrey Manufacturing (USA) track mounted coal Cutting and Loading machines being manufactured under license, in the AIS Port Kembla and BHP Newcastle Steel Works, during World War 2.  The coal mined in the initial development of this mine was hauled from the face to the surface in 5-ton capacity waggons hauled by Battery Locomotive and dumped into a small capacity Bin. The coal was then loaded on to road trucks for delivery to the Coal Washery at the Wongawilli Colliery for treatment and delivery by rail to the Port Kembla Steel Works. 

In 1951 the original track mounted Cutters and Loaders installed at the mine were abandoned, in favour of caterpillar mounted Anderson Boyes (UK) coal Cutters and Joy Manufacturing (USA) Loaders, with the latter delivering the coal into track mounted 10 ton capacity mine cars at the coal face. 

29L Jeffrey Coal Cutter, Nebo Colliery
From the collection of the Minerals Heritage Subcommittee, AusIMM

In 1952 Joy rubber tyred, cable reel, Shuttle cars were introduced. These cars provided haulage of the coal from the face to an outbye unloading point where the coal was unloaded from the shuttle cars into a 10-ton capacity mine car.  In 1954 track mounted Continuous miners were introduced. These machines combined the cutting and loading of the coal into one machine, and whilst replacing both the coal cutters and coal loaders, the existing shuttle cars complimented the delivery of the coal mined by the Continuous Miner from the coal face to the unloading point. In 1960 Belt Conveyors were installed and a Belt Feeder unit was later installed at the Belt end in the Panel. This unit enabled the Shuttle Car to rapidly discharge its coal and return to the coal face and leaving the Belt Feeder to load the coal on to the Conveyor Belt at its rated carrying capacity.

The coal on this conveyor belt was unloaded on to a mine wide Trunk belt conveyor system, that delivered the coal to an underground above-seam Storage bin, where it was unloaded into a train of 10-ton mine cars and hauled by diesel Locomotive to the surface Coal handling plant.   

The mine and its surface facilities were of the most modern design and included administration, workshop and bathhouse buildings and a training school for mine workers.  The coal handling plant was erected at the northern end of mine surface area. of the main mine portals. This plant provided a means of rotary dumping each 10-ton mine car, sizing the coal and extracting the included stone using a Bradford Breaker. The coal from the plant was loaded on to a decline conveyor belt system and discharged into rail storage bins erected over rail track spur line linked to the original Mt Kembla Colliery Private railway line. The coal was transported from this bin to the Port Kembla steelworks in 70 ton capacity rail wagons, hauled by diesel Locomotives over the above now AIS private rail line.

Coal Train, Nebo Colliery to Port Kembla Steelworks
From the collection of the Minerals Heritage Subcommittee, AusIMM

The mine was initially ventilated by a Sirocco type axial flow fan located in the outcrop of the No3 seam adjacent to the mine Training School.  In 1954 work commenced on sinking two 1.8 metre diameter ventilation shafts, west of the escarpment using the Calyx drill rig.  The sinking No1 Calyx shaft began in November 1954 and was completed in April 1955.The sinking of the nearby No2 shaft commenced in July 1955 and was completed in September 1955. Axial flow mine ventilation Fans were installed on both of these shafts as they were completed. The original Sirocco mine fan was taken out of service, once the Calyx fans were commissioned, and moved to the Bulli Colliery where it was installed on the existing No1 Shaft. 

Later on one of the above axial flow fans was moved from the Calyx shaft and installed on the No3 Shaft, that had been sunk using the conventional shaft sinking methods and located to the southwest of Nos 1 and 2 shafts.  The final step in the progressive ventilation of the mine was to commission a further, completely new, fan installation further to the southwest. This was on the recently sunk No4 Shaft, with the fan being placed in service in 1984. This latter fan installation remained in service to ventilate the Illawarra Coal Elouera Colliery that was later sold to another mine owner.

Power for these mine fan sites was supplied from the Collieries 33kV overhead power line system. The initial 33kV/6.6kV mine substation was erected adjacent to the entrance to the Nebo Colliery. In 1984 a 33kV/6.6kV Substation was erected at the number 4 Shaft site to supply the mine ventilation Fan, and  to provide a 6.6kV supply to the underground workings of the mine via a power cable installed in a Borehole located adjacent to the Shaft. 

In 1993 Nebo colliery ceased mining operations with the underground workings being linked to the Wongawilli workings along with remaining Kemira coal leases to create the Elouera mine. The administration, personnel and materials and management functions of this new mine were concentrated at Wongawilli, with the Nebo surface portal entries remaining part of the Eloura mine ventilation system and providing access to and from the mine for statutory purposes.

40 Person Man Transport Car, Nebo Colliery
From the collection of the Minerals Heritage Subcommittee, AusIMM

In 2001 the remaining surface facilities at the Nebo colliery were chosen to support the development of the new Dendrobium Colliery and reworked, to meet the needs of that mine. The Coal handling plant, decline conveyor, rail storage bin and railway sidings have been demolished and the site cleared.  Except for the No4 Shaft mine fan, the No1 and 2 Calyx shafts and No3 shaft along with the remains of the original fans and buildings have been removed and each site rehabilitated.  


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