Crystalline forms of silica are known to cause lung damage for which there is no effective treatment. Silicon is abundant in crustal material and silicates are the single largest mineral grouping, with silica (SiO₂) being the most abundant crustal compound. Media reports of high levels of silicon in particles in the air in the vicinity of Hunter Valley open-cut coal mines have caused community anxiety and concerns about potential health impacts on local populations. An extensive sampling campaign using continuous air quality monitoring and targeted collection of particles has been carried out in an area close to mining operations. It was determined that silicon as silica was present in the ambient air, although the concentrations of crystalline silica measured suggest that it should not should cause health problems even for sensitive individuals within the general population. The results of the research should inform more rigorous discussions of air quality management plans for fine particles in the Hunter Valley and aid discussions of community concerns over the potential health impacts of coal mining.