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|This paper describes the research and development programme to develop a prototype underground auger mining system aimed at developing and demonstrating an underground auger mining system able to provide economic access to thinner (<1.8 m) coal reserves of South Africa. Data concerning the performance of modern coal augers under South African coal mining conditions were gained from a proven surface auger which operated across a range of coal types. These data were analysed and considered in conjunction with historical information regarding previous attempts at building underground augers dating back to the 1950s. Drawing on these data a prototype underground auger mining system, the BryDet BUA 600 underground coal recovery auger, was designed and manufactured by the BryDet Development Corporation in collaboration with Eskom and Cutting Edge Technology Pty Ltd with support from Anglo Coal and the Ingwe Coal Corporation Ltd. The prototype BryDet BUA 600 underground coal recovery auger commenced trials in March 2000 at the Matla Mine near Witbank in South Africa. The initial trials were undertaken in an open cut to facilitate the commissioning and training associated with a prototype mining machine. A total of 30 holes was augered in the box cut before the machine moved underground. The prototype BUA 600 first achieved the target penetration depth of 80 m in its third hole. The prototype BUA 600 is a new underground mining system which has passed early testing with ?flying colours? and could provide access to extensive underground coal reserves unmineable by conventional mining techniques both in South Africa and elsewhere around the world.|