All Terms Listed A to Z


Abutment Pressures-When an opening is created in a coal seam, the stress that was present before the opening was created is re-distributed to the adjacent coal pillars that are left. The areas within the remaining coal where the vertical stress is greater than the average are called abutments and hence the stresses in those areas are called abutment pressures.

ACTU-Australian Council of Trade Unions – formed in 1927

Adit-An access tunnel from the surface to the mine workings that is nearly horizontal. Adits are used to access longwall mines from previously worked highwall mines.

Air Split-A division of airflow into two or more separate air ways.

Air Way-Underground passageway along which air passes.

Anemometer-An instrument for measuring the velocity of air within a mine passage.

Anthracite Coal-Coal of the highest rank being a high carbon content and a low volatile matter. It has a bright black lustre.

Anticline-A upward(convex) folding of the rock strata.

Aquifer-A bed of rock strata that contains water. The presence of aquifers must be taken into consideration when designing any mine

Arch-A steel support of two or three sections which, when bolted together, form a strong permanent support.

Armoured Face Conveyor (AFC)-An articulated chain conveyor that transports the coal along the longwall face after it has been cut by the coal shearer. From the AFC, the coal is transferred to the beam stage loader.

Auxiliary Fan-Used in conjunction with air ducting to direct portion of the main ventilating current to the working face.

Back-The roof of any mine opening.

Ballroom-A large space left following unusually high fall of roof.

Barrier Pillar-A section of coal that is left to substantially separate two working panels. This technique is often used for mines that are susceptible to spontaneous combustion. If a spontaneous heating occurs in one panel the barrier pillar will prevent the coal in the adjacent panel becoming kindred. They are also used to reduce the amount of subsidence that can occur at the surface. This technique can also be used to prevent accidents such as inrushes of water, gas or explosions.

Baulk-Horizontal timber roof support. 

Belt Extension-A job of adding lengths of structure to a conveyor belt to move its termination point in bye.

Belt Idler-A cylindrical roller which is mounted on a frame and supports and guides a conveyor belt.

Belt take-up-A pulley mechanism that is attached under tension to the drive head of the conveyor belt. It is used to maintain tension in the belt conveyor for optimum performance.

Beltman/Belthand-A person who operates and maintains the belt.

Beneficiation-The treatment of mined material to make it more concentrated and suitable for sale to the customer.

Bituminous Coal-A general term descriptive of coal intermediate in rank between sub-bituminous and semi-anthracite and including coking coals. Bituminous coals may be either bright or dull and are usually banded in appearance.

Black Coal-A general term for coal of either sub-bituminous, bituminous or anthracite rank.

Black Damp-This concept is a term generally applied to carbon dioxide rapidly changing and can no longer be regarded as correct. It is also applied to an atmosphere depleted by oxygen, rather than being an excess of carbon dioxide.

Bolt Torque-The torque applied to a roof bolt when it is being installed to achieve a required tension.

Booster Fan-An appliance used in ventilation district return airway to increase air flow within that district.

Boot end-End of conveyor belt, which accepts coal from the shuttle car.

Bord and Pillar-A system of mining in which a series of roadways are driven at right angles into the coal seam, being square or rectangular pillars, which are to be removed during the second working, after the roadways have reached their limit.  

Brassy tops- Pyrites – Iron sulphide, a chemical dangerous in mines because of its tendency to ignite spontaneously.

Brattice-This is an anti-static woven material used in ventilation to direct the flow of air.

Breaker-Circuit breaker in electrical circuits.

Brown Coal-Coal of the lowest rank, of a soft friable nature and high moisture in the air-dried

Buntings-Horizontal members placed across vertical shafts at intervals down the shaft to support guide rails, pipes etc in the shaft

Cage-Box-like container attached to a winding rope and used to hold the skips or the men during the hoisting operation in the shaft. Like an elevator.  The structure used for conveying miners or materials up or down a mine shaft.

Caking Coal-Coal which leaves a coherent (agglomerated) residue when subjected to fact eating.

Cap Lamp-A rechargeable, battery operated, light worn on a miner's safety helmet.

Car Cable-The electric trailing cable on a shuttle car.

Carvil-Ballot regularly conducted among contract mineworker to distribute work sites

CEF-Colliery Employees’ Federation body representing unskilled miners before representation by the Miners’ Federation

Central Council-Elected national committee of the Miners’ Federation.

Chain Conveyor-A conveyor on which material is transported along solid pans by the scraping action of crossbars that are connected by chains. AFC's and beam stage loaders are two examples of chain conveyors that are used in long wall mining.

Chain Pillar-The pillars that are left to along the entry roads to a working panel in order to support the roof.

Check Inspector-Official of the union appointed by the underground employees to look after interests regarding safety. The duties are laid down in the regulations governing mining operations.

Checkweighman-Mineworker selected and employed by contract workers to check employers’ tallies of their output; often a Lodge official.

Chock-A roof support unit for use in large openings which consists of wooden or steel blocks stacked between the floor and the roof often filled with stone for added stability.

Cinder Coal-(Natural coke, cinder). Coal which has been significantly altered by heat associated with natural igneous activity; usually local in character.

Cleat-Parallel cleavage planes or partings crossing the bedding and along which the coal breaks more easily than in any other direction.

Clipper-Typically a young mine worker, responsible for clipping the coal skips onto the hauling rope.

Coal measure-Coal measures are a group of seams that are the same age.  

Coal Washing-A beneficiation process to separate the coal from unwanted rock material by utilizing the differences in their specific gravities. The unwanted material is generally heavier than coal and sinks in water whereas coal is lighter and floats in water.

Coking Coal-Coal that is used to produce coke. Coke is used in the process to produce steel products.

Consideration-When factors in the control of employers lowered the output of contract miners, workers sought compensation payments, or considerations, for these factors.  Negotiations over considerations produced many industrial disputes.

Continuous Miner-An electric powered cutting machine used to remove coal from the face and load it into the shuttle car.

Contract mineworker-A worker paid according to a work contract relating to output rather than according to a day-wage; a face worker of wheeler.The mining of coal on a contract basis where the miner is paid for the amount of coal mined

Conveyor-The means of transporting coal from the coal panels to the underground storage bin. It consists of an endless belt driven by a motor drum system over a structure roller assembly. They are popular choice for most mines because of their ability to handle production surges high tonnage rates that are achieved from longwall mines.

Craft –worker-In the mining industry, a term identifying a worker who belonged to a craft-based union rather than the Miners’ Federation.

Creep-Upward movement of a relatively soft floor of a seam under pressure from adjacent coal. Sometimes used for widespread movement of the upper strata because pillars left for roof support were insufficient size over a relative large area. The lifting or hewing of the floor in a coal mine.

Crib-Lunch or lunch-time. Meal eaten by miners in the middle of their shift.

Crusher-A machine that is used for crushing coal and other materials in order to reduce their particle size.

Cut Through-This is the roadway that joins one to another; they are numbered in sequence going

Darg-A limit collectively self-imposed by contract miners on their output

Day-wage worker-A worker paid by time rather than by output.  The mining industry had day-wage and contract miners.

Deputy-Supervisor in charge of a section or district of a mine, and all employees working therein. The statutory duties, responsibility and authority of a deputy are set down in the regulations governing mining. A mineworker with the lowest level of supervisorial job; requiring a Deputy’s Certificate from Technical College.  According to miners, deputies should have been concerned with safety issues, but were often forced to become guardians of the employers’ production levels

Development Mining-Work that is undertaken to expand the mine reserves rather than work that is involved in the extraction of coal.  An example of development work is the driving of roadways that will form a new longwall panel.

Dip-The angle of a coal seam relative to the horizontal. It is usually expressed as (1 in X) in a certain direction.

District-A coal mining area in Australia.  The NSW the districts are Northern Southern and Western.  There is also the Newcastle District 

Dog-watch-Night Shift, from about 11 PM till 7 am, depending on individual mine sites.

Downcast Shaft-Shaft or other mine opening which carries fresh air form the surface down to the mine workings.

Dragline-A large machine used for removing overburden during open cut mining 

Drift-An inclined access from the surface to the coal seam or from coal seam to coal seam. It often contains a conveyor belt or man riding train.

Drivehead-The driving mechanism of motor, gearbox and drive drum which is responsible for the movement of the conveyor belt.

Dump-Discharge point for loaded shuttle cars and other haulage devices.

Dyke-An intrusive igneous body which has disrupted the coal seam by cutting through it. Usually it has a sintered band of coal each side of the rock.

Egress-A negotiable underground roadway

Engine Plane Haulage-A haulage system used to lower skips into and to raise skips from a mine at the same time.  One rope winds off the drum whilst the other winds onto the bottom thus allowing skips to go in and skips to come out.  It is used where access to the workings is by a tunnel sloping down towards the coal seam.

Entry-An underground passage used for haulage, ventilation, or as a manway.

Face Cleat-The principal Cleavage plane that is perpendicular to stratification of the coal seam.

Face-Place where coal is being worked

Faceworker-A miner working at the coal face itself; the elite of the unskilled workers in the mining industry and paid by contract.

Factor of Safety-The ratio of the strength of a coal pillar against the amount of load being applied to it by the overlying strata. The factor of safety is used in determining the acceptable size of coal pillars that are let when entry tunnels are being driven.

Fall-Collapse of roof material

Fault-Break in the continuity of a coal seam or rock strata. There are many types of faults.

Feeder-A machine that moves coal onto a conveyor belt, an example being a beam stageloader.

Fender-A narrow strip of coal left between adjacent workings.

Firedamp-Any mixture of methane and air is firedamp. If the methane content in air is between 5% and 14% the mixture will explode and this has been the source of many explosions in coal mines. If above 15% the mixture will burn and hence the name firedamp.

Flameproof Equipment-Equipment within which an explosive mixture of gas can ignite without igniting the explosive gases surrounding the outside of the equipment.

Flight-The scraping bars that transport material on chain conveyor.

Flitting-Moving machinery from place to place

Floor Heave-The process of the floor of a mine beginning to lift as a result of high ground stresses.

Gas Drainage-The system used to extract gas from the coal and remove it from the mine. Some mine utilize the gas to operate gas powered turbine to generate electricity.

Gate end box-An electrical control centre used in a panel to control and distribute power to face

Gate Roadway-A roadway that provides access to a working panel.

Girder-Heavy steel horizontal roof support

Goaf-The area abandoned and left to collapse after the extraction of coal.

Greta Coalfield-The field including both the South Maitland and Greta-Branxton Coalfields.

Greta-Branxton Coalfield-The northern part of the Greta Coalfield, centred on the towns of Greta and Branxton; developed earlier than the South Maitland Coal Seam

Ground Control-A collective term given to the techniques that are used to prevent the collapse and failure of mine openings.

Grunching off the solid-Blasting coal out of the solid face, as opposed to blasting coal which has first been undercut or holed.

Haulage-The transportation of men, materials or ore from one point to another generally in a near horizontally direction. Vertical transportation is generally called hoisting.


Heading-A roadway driven into solid coal.

Hurrying-The practice of pushing small skip-like vehicles by hand.

Immediate Roof-The roof strata that is immediately above the coal seam. This is the strata that requires support for the mine openings to remain competent.

In Situ-In the natural or original position with references to rock strata.

Inbye-The direction along a roadway towards the face thus going away from the surface entry.

Inspector-Person appointed by the Government (Department of Mines) under the mining regulations. His/Her duties include the making of examinations of the mine to ascertain whether the regulations relating to the operations are being observed.

Intake-Any roadway that is taking fresh air into the workings.

Intermittency-A condition of irregular operation, once common in the mining industry because of overcapacity and the over-supply of the market for coal; a condition leading to stand downs, often at short notice.

Joint Coal Board (JCB)-Established by the federal and NSW Governments after WWII to supervise the coal industry.

Joint-A discontinuity in the rock strata where there is no sign of relative movement.

Lift-A slice of coal taken from either part of or a whole pillar.

Lignite-A brownish-black coal composed of vegetable matter which has been altered more than in peat, but less than in sub-bituminous coal.

Longwall-A system of working coal in which the seam is extracted on a long face.

Main Entry-A main access roadway to the working panels

Manager-The management official in day-to day control of a coal mine; qualified by Manager’s Certificate form Technical College.

Man-shift-One man working one shift comprises a man shift. Output of coal in tonnes per man-shift is accepted as a measure of the efficiency of the operation.

Methane Monitor-An instrument that is used to measure the amount of methane present in the mine atmosphere. It is often mounted on mining machinery or can be used in a hand held form by shift supervisors to take measurements in non-working areas.

Methane-A potentially explosive, lighter than air, gas which comes out of coal seams.

Miners Federation-Popular name for the Australasian Coal and Shale Employee’ Federation c1915; represents unskilled or ordinary mineworkers in Australia.

Miners Lodge-The organisational unit of the Miners’ Federation centred on an individual mine.

Natural Ventilation-Ventilation that is provided without the assistance of fans or furnaces. The occurrence of natural ventilation pressures must be considered when designing a mine ventilation system.

Northern Coal Owners’ Association (NCA)

Nystagmus-Common eye disorder among coal miners

Open cut-A mine working open to the surface.

Outburst-A violent displacement of fine coal at the face caused by excessive gas and earth pressure, often associated with areas of weakens in the coal.

Outbye-The direction along a roadway away from the working face.

Outcrop-Coal that appears at or near the surface

Overburden-The layers of material, rock and soil, that overly a coal seam.

Overcast-An airway built over the top, and a t angle to, another airway. This is necessary to separate intake and return airways in certain locations.

Overman-An underground supervisor in coal mines; intermediate in status between a deputy and an undermanager.

Panel-A mine is broken up into a number of panels which are working places for each mining crew.

Pillar-A block of coal left to hold up the roof and formed by driving a connected series of headings and cut-throughs.

Pit ponies-Horses used to transport coal skips underground.

Pit-brow lasses-Women working at the mine surface

Pit-brow-Mine surface

Pneumoconiosis-A chronic disease of the lungs that is caused by inhaling coal dust.

Portal-An entrance to a tunnel.

Powder Box-A box used for packaging gunpowder used in coal mines’ the empty box was often sold and used to make furniture.

Preparation Plant-The place at the surface of the mine where coal is cleaned and prepared for sale to the customer(s).

Primary Roof-The main roof above the secondary roof.

Prop-A timber prop roof support set tightly between the roof and the floor.

Pyrites-Iron sulphide, a chemical dangerous in mines because of its tendency to ignite spontaneously

Red Roll-List of miners killed in industrial accidents

Regulator-A constructed stopping which controls the air flow in a roadway by means of varying the size of an opening built into the stopping to suit requirements.

Resin-A chemical material that is inserted into the top of a drill hole when a roof bolt is being installed. The resin acts a glue to hold the bolt securely in the drill hole.

Respirable Dust-Coal dust particles that are 5 microns or less in size.

Return (Airway)-Opening along which air returns from the working face(s).

Return Air-Air or ventilation that has passed through the workings. In general, it will contain relatively high concentrations of gas and dust.

Returns-Heading used for movement of the air form the face and out of the mine.

Rib-The name given to the coal walls of the roadway. These are the sides of the pillars.

Ripper-An experienced mineworker who is responsible for breaking down the roof of mine roadways in order to enlarge or extend the roadways

Road-layer-Day-wage worker responsible for laying and maintaining rail tracks underground.

Roof Bolt-A length of steel rod used as a roof support by securing it in a hole drilled into the roof.  It binds the roof strata together to prevent them from collapsing into the roadway.

Roof Jack-A steel hydraulic jack that is used as a temporary roof support.

Roof Support-Any material that is used to support the overlying roof strata. Examples of roof supports are roof bolts, cable bolts, arches, powered supports, timber chocks or hydraulic roof jacks.

Roof-The immediate strata above a working place or underground roadway.

Screenman-A surface –worker, responsible for screening the size of coal produced at a mine.

Seam-A bed of coal laid down between beds of rock

Second Means of Egress-The alternative roadways from the working area of the mine which can be used in an emergency.

Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus-A self-contained supply of oxygen used during rescue work from coal mine fires and explosions. Sometimes called self-contained self rescuer (SCSR).

Self-Rescuer-Worn by miners and used in the event of a suspected explosion Used to remove lethal quantities of carbon monoxide (and other poisonous gases) from the breathed air.

Shaft-An opening; usually vertical, connecting the surface with the underground workings.

Shifman-Day-wage worker

Shotfirer-A miner, qualified by a certificate from a Technical College, who is responsible for the use of explosives underground; has some supervisorial powers in relation to safety issues.

Shuttle Car-An electrically driven machine that is used to transfer the coal from the continuous miner to the start of a conveyor belt.

Skip-Wagon used for hauling coal

Sloughing-The crumbling and falling away of material from the longwall face.

South Maitland Coalfield-The larger part of the Greta coalfield centred on Kurri and Cessnock.

Standard Mortality Ratio (SMR)-Actual deaths as a percentage of expected deaths for any given population or cause of death

Stay-in strike-A strike based on the occupation of the underground workings of a mine. 

Steaming coal-Coal especially suitable for building up steam in engines

Stone Dusting-Operation of spraying finely ground limestone or other non-combustible and non-siliceous dust on to coal. The limestone particles mix with the coal dust and reduce the possibility of a coal dust explosion

Stonedust-Crushed limestone (calcium carbonate) added to coal dust to reduce its potential to explode.

Stook-Small area of coal left at corners of pillar during extraction

Stopping-A brick or plaster wall in a cut-through which is used to direct the air flow.

Stump-Union dues

Sub-Bituminous Coal-Coal of a rank between lignite and bituminous.

Subsidence-The gradual sinking, or sometimes the abrupt collapse, of the rock and soil layers into an underground mine. Structures and surface features above the subsidence zone can be affected.

Superintendent-A high-ranking managerial officer in the coal industry; responsible for a number of mines and managers.

Surface-worker-Mineworker who does not work underground.

Tailgate-An auxiliary entry gateroad of a longwall panel.

Trailing Cable-Heavily insulated electrical cable used to bring power to an electrically operated machine, such as a shuttle car. The cable trials along the ground from a plug-in power point to the machine.

Transfer Point-A point in the transportation system where material is transferred between two Conveyor systems, i.e. from one belt conveyor to another.

Under – Manager-A position holding responsibilities defined by law. An undermanager is usually the person in charge of underground mining operations on a shift and is next in authority under a manager or deputy manager. Requiring a 2nd class certificate of competency or certificate of service. Superior to deputies and overmen, but responsible to a manager.

Upcast Shaft-Shaft or other mine opening through which air returns to the surface after ventilating the mine workings.

Ventilation-The supply of fresh air to all parts of the mine workings and the removal of return air from the mine.

Volatile Matter-The part of coal that gives it its ability to burn as they contain mostly hydrocarbons

"W" Strap-A flat steel plate used as a cross roof support and is held in position by roof bolts.

Washer-A surface worker involved in washing dust or impurities from coal 

Water money-Additional specified amount of money paid to a person called on to work in a wet place.

Web-The depth of coal that is cut by a shearer drum from the longwall face on each transverse.

Wheeler-Usually a young contract worker; responsible for using pit ponies to transport coal skips to and from the faceworkers.

White Damp-Carbon monoxide gas mixed with air

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