In what has come to be an increasingly rare display of the Illawarra's manufacturing might, Unanderra company Nepean Conveyors has unveiled a $2 million, 37-tonne piece of machinery to be used at Illawarra Coal's Appin Area 9 Project.
The 10-metre tall "North Mains Two Splitter" will be dismantled and reassembled below ground in early 2015, where it will be used to take coal from one conveyor before splitting it onto two outgoing systems.
The equipment, which is part of a bigger $37 million contract between the two companies, has helped "support local manufacturing" according to Illawarra Coal head of projects David Oliver.
Mr Oliver said the machine would help improve efficiency at the mine, as well as increase the company's competitive advantage.
"I think it's just a good example of mining investment continuing to support local manufacturing and ... it's still continuing here in the Illawarra."
Mr Oliver said although the North Mains Two Splitter took around 12 months to build, years of planning had gone into its creation.
The Appin Area 9 Project was announced in mid 2012, offering Illawarra Coal employees a lifeline as production wound down at its West Cliff mine.
The new area is adjacent to the company's existing Appin operations and is set to open in 2016, the year reserves will expire at West Cliff.
Illawarra Coal president Troy McDonald said the new piece of infrastructure would improve productivity by providing flexibility to direct coal through to either the West Cliff or Appin Mine surfaces.
"The new equipment will assist in facilitating the continued reliable supply of high quality coking coal - an important raw material used in steel making - to domestic and overseas customers," he said. "This is the first time a structure of this height and width has been commissioned in a NSW underground coal mine."