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Mine Owners Insurance Ltd business commenced after incorporation on 22 December 1921. The company's aim was to underwrite workers compensation risks in the New South Wales coal industry.


On 1 September, 21 miners died in the Bellbird coal mine disaster. This followed several mining disasters between 1887 and 1921 which killed a total of 293 people in NSW. A coronial inquest and Royal Commission extensively debated the value of breathing apparatus and the establishment of a mines rescue service.


The Mines Rescue Act 1925 governed the establishment of rescue stations and brigadesmen teams, and instigated equipment and maintenance standards. This remains the foundation for governing mines rescue operations in NSW.


The first mines rescue station in NSW began operations on 20 March at Abermain. Stations in Newcastle, Wollongong and Lithgow opened shortly thereafter.



The Commonwealth and the NSW State Government established the Joint Coal Board (JCB) pursuant to the Coal Industry Act (No 40 of 1946) of the Commonwealth and the Coal Industry Act (No 44 of 1946) of the State of New South Wales.


At the time, dust-related lung disease was prevalent in the NSW coal mining workforce. Once the JCB began operating, it started to address the dust problem through medical surveillance, promoting dust control and managing the compensation problem.


The JCB established four medical bureaus, one in each major region. The bureaus began medical examinations to identify and remove ‘dusted’ workers and protect those at risk. Rehabilitation services were established, as well as an extensive medical research and post-mortem program.


The JCB established a welfare fund based on the Miners’ Welfare Commission in the United Kingdom, where funds were granted ‘for the benefit of mine workers and the communities in which they live’.


The JCB purchased Mine Owners Insurance Ltd in June 1948 and introduced a new scheme of workers compensation insurance for all miners in the industry. The JCB's Order No. 10 required each employer in the coal industry to effect with the Board all workers compensation insurance for all mineworkers.



The JCB was credited with introducing the first Joy Continuous Miner in the country. One of the JCB’s objectives was to promote mechanisation in the coal fields.


In 1954 the JCB established the Standing Committee on Dust Research and Control with representatives from all key sectors of the industry.


The first underground mines rescue competition was held in the Southern region.



The first ‘inter-district’ mines rescue competition was held. It included teams from NSW, Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia.


The JCB implemented a hearing protection program for the industry. This included the purchase of suitable equipment to measure noise on all mining operations, to identify possible hazards to hearing. It also involved the introduction of hearing tests as part of periodic medical examinations and pre-employment medicals. The JCB medical bureaus were equipped with specially designed sound-proof booths and related equipment for this purpose.



The Mines Rescue Act was amended to establish the Mines Rescue Board as a body corporate. The first Board meeting was held on 23 November.


Order 34 was implemented by the JCB to ensure mine owners developed training plans for mine workers that would improve the safety of the workplace.



A specialised training program for open cut mine workers was launched.


Coal Mines Technical Services was established as part of the Southern Mines Rescue Station, following recommendations from a Mines Rescue Board delegation to Europe to determine the best practice for various mines rescue agencies.

The Abermain Rescue Station closed after 57 years of service transferring to Singleton Heights to become the Hunter Valley Mines Rescue Station. This signalled greater involvement with open cut coal mines.


The Commonwealth and NSW governments reconstituted the JCB to provide for one Board Member to be drawn from the trade union movement, one from coal company management and one from government.


CMI opened their first regional office in Singleton, followed by Warners Bay and Corrimal offices in 1988. Prior to this time CMI had a centralised based claims service out of Sydney.



The Health and Safety Trust was formed to seek out, nurture and apply quality research for the benefit of coal miners.


A review of the JCB’s operations was carried out (the Kelman Report), resulting in amendments to the Coal Industry Acts. The amendments refocused the Board away from engineering and industrial issues to a primary concern for the occupational health and welfare of mine workers.


Mines Rescue was restructured to position the organisation clearly as a training body.


Mines Rescue became a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) in October.
New courses were introduced by Mines Rescue including the Coal Mines Qualifications Board Emergency Preparedness and Mines Rescue Program for Mine Managers and Undermanagers. A Safe Working at Heights course was also developed following a number of fatalities at surface operations.


Mines Rescue published ‘A manual on Mines Rescue, Safety and Gas Detection’.



On 1 January 2002 the Coal Industry Act 2001 was enacted, creating Coal Services and its subsidiary entities to undertake the functions formerly performed by the Joint Coal Board and the NSW Mines Rescue Board.


In October the first Virtual Reality Technologies simulator was officially opened at the Newcastle Mines Rescue Station.


The Standing Dust Committee published ‘Airborne dust in coal mines’, known in the industry as ‘the blue dust book’.

2010 to today


In November the Southern Mines Rescue Station hosted the 7th International Mines Rescue competition. Sixteen mines rescue teams from around the world, including China, Russia and the US competed at the event. Appin West’s mines rescue team won the competition and the right to defend the title in the Ukraine in 2012.


Order 41 and Order 42 were introduced to formalise workers’ health assessments and monitor airborne dust.

CS Health introduced ‘E-A-RFit’ testing as an optional service to check if workers were using PPE such as ear plugs correctly.

Coal Services’ Virtual Reality Technologies beat 13 other finalists to win the 2011 PACE Zenith Award in the Mining, Minerals and Exploration category.


Coal Services office opened in Mudgee in response to the area’s growing coal mining presence.

On 20 June, Virtual Reality Technologies won the Simulation Australia Award for ‘Project Innovation’.

In September, an Inter-agency Working Group was established to coordinate a framework and MOU to manage mining emergency response and rescue in NSW.


The Standing Dust Committee published ‘Managing noise in the coal industry to protect hearing book.’

In May, eight teams comprised of mines rescue brigadesmen and general first aid officers from across NSW took part in the Coal Services Coal Industry First Aid Competition. Glencore’s Tahmoor mine (Wollongong) was named the overall winner.


Mines Rescue released an updated manual on ‘Mines Rescue, Gas Detection and Emergency Preparedness’. The manual is an update of the original 1998 publication ‘A manual on Mines Rescue, Safety and Gas Detection’ and includes modern technology and processes.


In March, the first emergency response competition was held in the Mudgee-Ulan region. Peabody Energy’s Wilpinjong Mine was named overall winner out of the five mines who competed.

In October, the 53rd Australian Underground Mines Rescue competition was held in Newcastle. Out of the eight competing teams from NSW and Queensland, Peabody’s Wambo Mine was victorious.