THE NSW Minerals Council's health, safety, environment and community conference at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley has grown over the years to become the coal industry's premier annual gathering.
There are always some high-profile mining figures: Yancoal boss Reinhold Schmidt, Bloomfield owner John Richards and World Coal Association deputy chair Mick Buffier were three at this week's gathering.
But most of the 500 people who gather at Lovedale work at the "coalface" of an industry they feel is under continual pressure - not always fairly - because of environmental impacts, especially coal's contribution to greenhouse gases.
Greenhouse emissions were unexpectedly prominent this year after a crucial Independent Planning Commission statement published the Friday night before the conference. Raising the prospect of climate policy related export controls on coal was always going to be controversial, and Deputy Premier John Barilaro used his Monday night speech to make his feelings well and truly felt, knowing that the commission's chair, Dr Mary O'Kane, was scheduled to speak the morning after him.
It was a calculated ambush, and Dr O'Kane responded by delivering a speech that both praised and criticised the industry, before saying she was bound by commission "policy" not to talk about the one thing, it's fair to say, that everyone had gathered to hear.
There was little in Dr O'Kane's speech that the industry had not heard many times over, especially when it came to surveys showing "a low level of trust" in coal mining.
But as federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan told the conference on Monday, the surprise election result could be read as a "hi-vis revolution", a victory for an industry under siege.
It will be interesting to see how Senator Canavan's Productivity Commission review of approvals regulation will butt up against the Independent Planning Commission's carbon concerns.
Nobody denies that coal has environmental impacts, but the people who work in the industry want coal's benefits to be considered as well.