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Mining and mineral exploration play important roles in the global economy. In mining operations, communication systems play vital roles in ensuring personnel safety, enhancing operational efficiency and process optimization. Over the period 1920-2012, this article surveys the evolution of wireless communications in underground mines, the developments of the underlying technology, and progress in understanding and modeling the underground wireless propagation channel. Current and future trends in technology, applications and propagation modeling are also identified. About ninety relevant references have been reviewed that consider: 1) the emergence of technology and applications, 2) analytical, numerical and measurement-based propagation modeling techniques, and 3) implications of the physical environment, antenna placement and radiation characteristics on wireless communication system design. Affected systems include narrowband, wideband/ultra-wideband (UWB) and multiple-antenna systems. The paper concludes by identifying open areas of research.