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UK Coal mulling closure of two deep coal mines and cutting majority of workforce

02 April 2014

Two of Britain's three remaining deep coal mines face closure in the next 18 months with the loss of more than 1,300 jobs under plans announced by the country's largest coal producer. UK Coal is consulting on plans to shut Kellingley in Yorkshire, which employs 700 people, and Thoresby in Nottinghamshire, which employs 600. 

Inside Kellingly - Photo: UK Coal
Inside Kellingly - Photo: UK Coal

This would leave employee-owned Hatfield colliery in South Yorkshire as Britain's last remaining deep mine. Jobs are also likely to go at UK Coal's head office in Doncaster, South Yorkshire. This would mean that a majority of the 2,000 people employed by UK Coal – which also operates six surface sites – facing a bleak future, just nine months after it was rescued from administration.

The firm is hoping to secure an emergency injection of up to £20m through a combination of funding from the government and the private sector but will still need to make the cuts if it succeeds.

A spokesman said: "We have started today consultations with the unions on looking at the way forward – that is, looking at reducing numbers in the coming months. We are looking to secure the best outcome possible."

The firm went into administration in July following a fire that closed its Daw Mill pit in Warwickshire a year ago, resulting in 350 job losses. It was saved in a restructuring that saw it taken over with the backing of Britain's pension rescue scheme, the Pension Protection Fund.

Coal has overtaken gas as the UK's main fuel for electricity generation over the last two years, surging to about 40% 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.

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