After 99 years of history and hard graft, work at the Coalcliff Cokeworks has come to a halt.
The Illawarra Coke Company (ICC), which owns both the Coalcliff and Corrimal Cokeworks, told workers last December it would close the Coalcliff site from mid-2013.
Late last month workers filed out of the gates for the last time after an emotional final day at the site, some having been with the company for more than 40 years.
Although coke will no longer be trucked out, the site will remain manned for at least the next 12 months, managing director Rex Wright said.
"We have to shut down equipment and we'll also be removing certain items of plant and equipment and taking it to Corrimal," he said.
"Then we'll be starting a contamination study on the site."
Eventually management would look at carrying out demolition work on the site. However that was still a long way down the track, Mr Wright said.
A decision about a future use for the 115-hectare property was also still a long way off, pending the results of a contamination study, which wouldn't be finalised until late 2013 or early 2014.
Between both sites, 19 workers took voluntary redundancy with all those remaining now based at the Corrimal Cokeworks.
Mr Wright said June 21, the day production ceased, had been a tough one for the close-knit Coalcliff workforce.
"It was a little emotional as you can imagine," he said.
"We had a barbecue and farewell for them, because you have to understand that some of the people had worked here for over 40 years and a good chunk of them between 30 and 40 years, so yes, there was a bit of emotion."
A number of factors contributed to the closure, including a worldwide oversupply of coke, a high Australian dollar, and the closure of domestic customers.
Infrastructure at the Coalcliff site was more expensive to maintain, while the additional distance to truck coke to Port Kembla cost about $500,000 per year.
The Coalcliff site's working life dates back to 1878 when a colliery opened.
The cokeworks itself began operating in 1914.