Historical Images

Originally known as South Bulli, Russell Vale Colliery is one of the oldest operating coal mines in Australia, its origins dating back to 1887. During its first 100 years the colliery produced 58 million tonnes of coal. Its extraction significantly changed the landscape.

In 1916 the Wongawilli colliery, in the Southern coalfields of New South Wales, was opened and developed by G & C Hoskins Limited in order to supply coke to industry in Lithgow. The mine was consolidated with the Kemira and Nebo mines to become the Elouera colliery, officially opened in February 1993.

The mine sites have a long history in the region promoting local jobs, industry and support for local community groups.

Russell Vale Colliery Timeline

1797      A party of shipwrecked sailors discover coal in the rock face at what is now known as Coalcliff

1882       The Taylor and Walker Colliery commences coal extraction on the South Bulli site

1887      The South Bulli Mining Co. opens. A portal entrance, boiler house, steam engine and sawmill are constructed. The first shipment of coal leaves the recently constructed jetty at Bellambi Point.

1900’s   The beginning of large scale mining. A skip haulage incline is constructed, taking from the underground workings and feeding the jetty at Bellambi

1913         The Colliery commences supply of power to the Bulli Shire.

1916-17  The mine closes briefly due to the Great War.

1917          The first underground transport system is constructed for employees

1928          A bath house is constructed allowing miners to travel home clean for the first time

1935          An introduction of an arc-wall cutter began, prior to this pit ponies hauled coal wagons loaded by hand.

1940         Improvements were made in ventilation with the addition of the first ‘Aeroto’ fan at the No.1 shaft.

1947         Two scraper loaders are installed, greatly increasing productivity. Four more follow two years later.

1953          Declining quantities of coal lead to the closure of the company jetty and adjacent coal crushing plant. All coal now went to Port Kembla for shipping.

1954         The scraper-loaders are replaced with a track mounted loading machine, a mechanised cutter and two battery locomotives.

1959         The first Lee-Norse continuous-miner in Australia is installed. The continuous miner could tear the coal from the face, gather the cut coal and covey it to transport.

1960         The early 60’s brought new processes to South Bulli and the construction of the washery, a new coal preparation plant.

1962         An export contract was signed to supply Japan with 410,000 tonnes of coking coal over the next two years.

1965         The company pioneered longwall coal mining technology in Australia. A continuous seam of coal could now be extracted, with an overhead advancing roof support system in place for safety.