Mary Morton Allport, 'Coal Mines Richmond', c 1842 (ALMFA, SLT)

Coal was first discovered in Tasmania by French explorers in 1793. After settlement in 1803, coal was mined on a small scale in many places over the eastern half of the state. The first mine, opened in 1834, was at Saltwater River on the Tasman Peninsula, where convicts were employed. The economically important coal reserves are of late Triassic age, and the bulk of the state's coal reserves are found in the Fingal–Mount Nicholas–Dalmayne areas.

Coal has been mined by the Cornwall Coal Company in the Fingal Valley for over a century. The company opened the Cornwall Colliery in 1886 and has been in continuous production from the Mount Nicholas and Fingal coalfields since then.

In 2004 coal is mined from the Duncan Colliery at Fingal, the Blackwood Colliery near St Marys and the Kimbolton (open cut) Colliery near Hamilton. Coal from these operations is supplied to a number of local secondary industries. The largest users are the paper factories and cement works which together account for around three quarters of the half million tonnes which is mined annually.

Further reading; C Bacon, 'The coal resources of Tasmania', Department of Resources and Energy, Bulletin 64, 1991.

Carol Bacon