Coal was first discovered in 1869 and used in the area to fuel gold crushing mills. In 1919 the Reefton Coal Company was formed to develop the Burkes Creek Mine and was bought by State Coal in 1946. The Garvey Coal Party opened the Garvey Creek Mine in 1947. In 1962 State Coal began production at Island Block Opencast mine, which is now in care and maintenance, when road access to the deposit was formed. Over 1 million tonnes of coal had been produced from the mine by 1996.