Coal exports are forecast to grow strongly, so that coal is likely to remain very important to Australia for the foreseeable future. However there is no sign that prices or profitability will rise of their own accord. Therefore the intense squeeze on costs will continue for the foreseeable future. This will mean lower manning, more outsourcing and probably an increasing rate of company attrition. As well, the political pressure from the greenhouse debate is only going to intensify and the pressure on the Federal Government after Kyoto is likely to be irresistible. The next one to two years therefore will see the industry caught in a nutcracker of intense political pressure on the one hand to help the country meet its political obligations, while on the other there is the relentless pressure of zero profit margins. Answers will be demanded that require research at the same time that cost pressures are reducing companies' ability to fund it. It is timely therefore to consider what it is that the industry is getting from its research levy and to see whether it really is making a difference.