Waterjet cutting can be traced back to hydraulic mining of coal in the Soviet Union and New Zealand. Water was collected from streams and aimed to wash over a blasted rock face carrying away the loose coal and rock.
This method of mining was redeveloped in South African gold mines to remove blasted rock from the work area into a collection drift or tunnel. In the California Gold Country between 1853-1886, pressurized water was first used to excavate soft gold rock from the mining surfaces. The pressurized water allowed the miner to stand further back from the face being washed.
This was safer because there was less danger of being covered by a collapsing wall of blasted rock. By early 1900s this method of mining had re ached Prussia and Russia. In these two countries the pressurized water was used to wash blasted coal away.
In the 1970s technology was developed in the USA that was capable of creating a 40,000 Bar pressure. Most of the waterjet mining growth after this involved combining a drill with the waterjet. In 1972 Professor Norman Franz of Michigan worked with McCartney Manufacturing Company to install the first industrial waterjet cutter. The equipment was installed in Alton Boxboard.