Story: Coal and coal mining

Coal production by region and total coal production, 1883–1978

As these graphs show, after expansion in the early 20th century, the growth of coal production slowed in the interwar years before it peaked at 3 million tonnes in 1960. The Waikato (North region) coalfields grew, but the West Coast fields suffered from the increasing use of oil in shipping, which had been their major market. The nationalisation of all mines in Waikato and the Grey Valley by the early 1940s meant that an increasing proportion of coal was produced by state-owned mines.

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Source: Annual production reports, Mines Department (later Ministry of Energy, then Crown Minerals, Ministry of Economic Development).

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How to cite this page:

Alan Sherwood and Jock Phillips, 'Coal and coal mining - The 20th century', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 7 July 2022)

Story by Alan Sherwood and Jock Phillips, published 12 Jun 2006, reviewed & revised 14 Apr 2021