The Australian coal industry is significant in many ways and is serviced by a number of research activities, but it is unique, globally, in relation to the Australian Coal Industry Research Program (ACARP) – a Research & Development (R&D) investment program funded by a 5c per saleable tonne levy and owned and managed by representatives of the industry. ACARP has been in operation since 1992 and currently supports research activities into the safety, sustainable production and marketing of coal (but excluding the sustainable use of coal). With an expenditure of about A$15 million per year, the program supports a critical mass of R&D activities covering issues determined to be of interest to coal producers and other key stakeholders. Outcomes of ACARP include new knowledge and technology, and importantly, an informed, representative and cohesive forum for identifying and responding to critical technical issues of importance for the coal industry. This role of ACARP in the Australian industry is described with particular emphasis on the underground sector.