The TelegraphBritain to have just one remaining coal pit after UK Coal announces closures
Kellingley Colliery in Yorkshire, which employs 700 people, and Thoresby Colliery in Nottinghamshire, which employs 600 people, will close within 18 months at the latest
By Emily Gosden
7:50PM BST 02 Apr 2014
Just one deep coal mine will be left in Britain by the end of next year after the UK’s largest coal producer announced plans to close two of the three remaining pits.
Workers at Kellingley Colliery in Yorkshire, which employs 700 people, and Thoresby Colliery in Nottinghamshire, which employs 600 people, were told on Wednesday that both pits will close within 18 months at the latest because they are no longer financially viable.
Owner UK Coal is in talks with Government and the private sector to try to secure a bailout, understood to be worth close to £20m, to fund a so-called “managed” closure of the deep pits. If the talks fail, the pits will close imminently.
A bailout could also help save 700 jobs at UK Coal's six remaining surface coal mines through a possible sale.
The closures, announced in the 30th anniversary year of the miners strike, will leave Hatfield Colliery in Ed Miliband’s Doncaster North constituency as Britain’s last remaining deep pit. The colliery, which featured in the film Brassed Off, is run by an employee benefit trust after it too ran into problems last year.
In coal's heyday in the first half of the 20th century the UK had more than 1,000 pits. That number had fallen to about 200 by the time of the miners' strikes.
The UK's handful of remaining pits have faced a series of challenges in recent years including the loss of Daw Mill Colliery in north Warwickshire last year following a devastating fire.
Coal has overtaken gas as the UK's main fuel for electricity generation over the last two years, surging to about 40 per cent of power output because of low coal prices.
The US shale gas boom has displaced coal usage in America, sending cheap coal flooding into Europe.
The cheap imports, combined with the weak dollar, are together making the UK Coal pits uneconomic.
A spokesman for UK Coal said 4 per cent of the UK’s electricity last year was generated by burning coal the company produced.
A bailout is expected to be a joint effort between the private sector and the Government and could require a cash injection of up to £20m, sources said. But the Government was last night yet to agree to the move.
A DECC spokesperson said: “The future of UK Coal is primarily a commercial matter. However we are in close contact with the company to ensure that government is kept aware of the challenges they face.