Coal mine in United Kingdom closes

July 6, 2015

The end of an era arrived in the United Kingdom in July when the closing of the Hatfiled coal mine in Yorkshire. It was one of the last deep-level coal mines and will take 420 jobs with it.

The Financial Times reported that the mine is closing after failing to find a market for its coal, the government and union officials said. It was already due to shut in August next year and had been given public funding in January and again in May to fund a less abrupt closure.

Business minister Anna Soubry said the government had provided up to £20m to support a managed closure plan. But Soubry said Hatfield had not been able to secure new supply contracts from this month at the same prices as before as power plants are fully stocked.

“The directors have concluded it is not economically viable to continue mining and so took the decision to stop coal production on 30 June 2015,” she said. “Our priority now is to support the workforce and to close the mine safely.”

The colliery is run by an employee-owned trust.

The final two remaining coal pits in the United Kingdom, owned by UK Coal, at Thoresby in Nottinghamshire and Kellingley in West Yorkshire, are also due to close this year.

UK Coal has been struggling to compete with imports and with cheaper natural gas as a fuel for power generation.

Most remaining coal extraction in the UK takes place at openpits mines, although Australian investors are seeking financial backing for renewed underground mining activity in Scotland and Cumbria, saying more modern mining methods can make mines viable.

Ed Miliband, the former Labour leader and the local MP for Hatfield, criticized the closure and said the government had “pulled the plug” on the pit. “After nearly 100 years of mining at Hatfield, this is an incredibly sad day for the miners, their families and the wider community,” he said.

A year-long miners’ strike that ended in 1985 is widely seen as the end of coal mining as a significant industrial activity in the UK. Before the strike about 150,000 miners worked at more than 170 pits but mines have closed steadily since privatisation in the 1990s. One of the largest, Daw Mill, was closed by an underground fire in 2013.

 

 

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