Two of the three deep mines left in Britain face imminent closure. Kellingley near Selby in North Yorkshire and Thoresby in Nottinghamshire, both owned by UK Coal, face a phased rundown to final closure in 2015.
At immediate risk are 1,300 miners’ jobs, with 2,000 going by 2015. By then Britain’s deep mine workforce will be less than 700, an industry obliterated since 1984 when it employed over 250,000 (see Feature, page 10). The third remaining deep mine, Hatfield in South Yorkshire, is owned by a Russian coal company.
The government is loaning the company £10 million for the “managed closure” of the mines, perhaps intended as a 1984-85 Miners Strike thirtieth anniversary present.
The Chief Executive of UK Coal welcomed the government’s “support”. He said, “This proposal offers the best opportunities for our workforce, our customers and our suppliers. Without the support to close the business on a phased basis to 2015, we would be announcing an immediate insolvency and 2,000 job losses.”
What a choice the employer and government offer the miners: murder or suicide. Meanwhile, coal is needed for electricity generation. Government statistics show coal imports rising by 38 per cent in 2012, the last year for which figures are available, coal production falling to an all-time low in that same year. ■