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|In seeking to improve the economic performance of mines, the management or human aspects are usually seen to be quite seperate from, and more significant than, the technical aspects. There are obvious aspects of industrial relations, man-management, skills training and supervision that are currently the focus of efforts to improve the productivity and quality of the mining process. However technology also has a lot to offer. Analysis of the costs involved suggests that innovations leading to improvement in the productivity of the excavation and transport of overburden and the recovery of coal (both in the mine and preperation plant) can lead to improvements in the economic performance of a mine that may outstrip the obvious non-technical or management opportunities for improvement. While there are some innovations currently being investigated within the industry that relate to the design of mining equipment, the type of machinery being used in open cut mines has not changed dramatically over the last twenty five years. It is also likely that mining equipment will remain essentially of the same form in the forseeable future. If significant improvements to mining performance are to be achieved other than by futher increases in the scale of machinery, then we need to seek ways to operate these same types of machines in a more productive and controlled manner. This paper discusses the identification of mining processes the improvement of which is likely to have a significant effect on mining costs and performance. Some areas of current research are discussed and potentially fruitful areas for future development are identified.|