Community and coal mine working hand-in-hand for 125 years
July 09, 2013

This year, an underground coal mine on the southern outskirts of Sydney is celebrating its 125th anniversary.

Peabody Energy’s Metropolitan mine, located around 25km south of Sutherland on the edge of Sydney, opened in 1888. With 125 years of operation under its belt, is the oldest continually-operating underground mine in Australia.

Metropolitan mine 3
General view of the upcast headframe at Metropolitan Colliery. 1955. Credit:


The metallurgical coal mined at Metropolitan Mine is used to make steel and is sold in NSW and to overseas customers. In 1889, the mine had just 65 workers, who produced 14,500 tonnes of coal that year - and the mining was by hand!

By 1893 the mine’s workforce was extracting over 194,500 tonnes of coal per year, making it the largest coal producer in the Illawarra at the time. Metropolitan has evolved from a site relying on human labour and horsepower (literally) to a modern mine site, producing around 1.5 million tonnes of saleable coal each year. 


Metropolitan Mine is nestled in the middle of the village of Helensburgh and the mine has maintained strong links to its local community throughout its 125 year history. Helensburgh was settled to support the mine and acted as a camp for railway construction workers in the late 1800s.  


Nowadays, the town has developed a fully-diversified economy, but the mine is still an economic cornerstone of the area, with over 100 local employees.


To celebrate this milestone, Metropolitan mine is holding events in the local community throughout the year, as well as an historic photo competition. You can see some of the entries at the Helensburgh community website.


Metropolitan mine 1
Group of workers possibly constructing a railway cutting to Metropolitan Colliery. Credit:


Metropolitan mine 2
Wide view of Metropolitan Colliery showing the downcast (left) & upcast (right) headframes & surface infrastructure. Credit:

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