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About: The West Cliff Colliery is located 25 kilometres north west of Wollongong in New South Wales. It is owned and operated by Illawarra Coal Holdings Limited, a fully owned subsidiary of BHP Billiton Limited.

Illawarra Coal Acquired West Cliff Colliery in 1997

The West Cliff Colliery that commenced coal production in 1976 , was acquired by Illawarra Coal in 1997. It is a high volume longwall underground coal mine that takes coal from the Bulli Coal Seam with the use of one longwall and five continuous miners. The mining method used at the West Cliff Colliery involves the use of mechanised shearers that cut and extract the coal from the coal seam. The coal is than dropped onto a chain conveyor that takes it to another conveyor which takes it to the surface. The roof of the mine is held in place with hydraulic powered roof supports while the mining of the coal is taking place. After all the coal is removed from the area being worked most of the longwall panel is allowed to collapse behind the supports, this forms a goaf ( the cavity left in worked out areas). The Bulli coal seam, that has a thickness ranging from 2.1 to 3.4 metres, is mined to depths of between 180 and 550 metres. The surrounding material consists of sandstone and shale strata.

West Cliff Colliery Coal Widely Distributed

Much of the product coal that leaves the West Cliff Colliery Washery is taken by road to the BlueScope steelworks, or to the coal terminal at Port Kembla. Other shipments are sent to Illawarra Coke Company's Coalcliff and Corrimal coke works or to its other customers.

West Cliff Colliery Approvals Extend Mine Life for 30 Years

Illawarra Coal Holdings Pty Ltd received approvals in 2011 from the New South Wales Department of Planning and Infrastructure and from the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Populations and Comminities in 2012, to continue with its existing underground mining operations for the next 30 years. The approvals also authorised the following:

  • The issuing of new mining leases to allow a ROM coal production rate of up to 10.5 million tonnes a year
  • Ongoing exploration within existing exploration tenements
  • The upgrading of the West Cliff Coal washery to allow it to accommodate the increased production
  • Drainage and capture of mine gasses for beneficial use at the West Cliff
  • Ventillation Air Methane Project
  • Ongoing generation of electricity at the Appin Tower Power Project using coal bed methane drained from the underground workings
  • Upgrading of infrastructure and surface facilities
  • Ongoing transportation of coal from the West Cliff Washery on the public road network to BlueScope Steelworks, Coalcliff and Corrimal coke works

The approval of the expansion project has secured the employment of Illawarra Coal's workforce into the future as well as that of contractors. It also ensures the supply of coking coal to the local steel industry and will continue providing economic benefits to the region as well as to the State of New South Wales.

BHP Billiton

BHP Billiton have been in the industry for over 150 years & are among the largest producers of major commodities such as aluminium, copper, coal, iron ore, silver & branching out into oil & gas.They have over 100 locations throughout the world & employ more than 100,000 employees & more


BHP Billiton
171 Collins Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000


Phone13 0055 4757
fax03 9609 3015

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