Coal mining commenced in Muswellbrook Shire in the late 1800s; initially underground mining and then, beginning in 1944, open cut mining. The oldest mine operating is Muswellbrook Coal, which celebrated its centenary in 2006. Technological advances coupled with a growing demand for coal, particularly for thermal coal, has resulted in an increase in open cut mines being established in Muswellbrook Shire.
Coal extraction in Muswellbrook Shire has increased markedly over the last ten years, from 4 million tonnes in 2001 to 43 million tonnes in 2011. Approvals and proposed modifications and expansions are projected to increase that production to approximately 80 million tonnes by 2014. The ramping up of operations in recent years at BHP Billiton Limited’s Mount Arthur coal mine, Rio Tinto’s part owned and managed Bengalla, and Glencore Xstrata’s Mangoola coal mine have brought many new people and families to Muswellbrook Shire