In 1959 black coal production in Australia totalled some 21.9 million tonnes per annum, 70% of this being produced from underground mines in the coalfields of New South Wales. By 1980 output levels had increased by nearly 350% to 75.4 million tonnes per annum (54% of which was exported) compared with 5% some 20 years earlier. Because it is blessed with large reserves of coal and other forms of energy, it is inevitable that the Australian coal mining industry will be required to play a major role in the development of the international coal market through to the end of the present century. Experts now predict a need for the black coal output in Australia to be developed from its present level to a minimum of 293 million tonnes per annum by the year 2000. This paper examines the present circumstances in the Australian coal industry and attempts to outline the development which has to be undertaken in order to meet the needs of an energy hungry world.