Hundreds of North East mining jobs are at risk after UK Coal announced plans to close two of the last three deep mines in Britain as it battles to stave off insolvency.
It is understood that there will be a managed closure of Thoresby Colliery in Nottingham between now and October 2015. And another deep mine, Kellingley in North Yorkshire, could also be closed within 18 months.
Between them, the two mines employ 1,300 people. It will leave employee-owned Hatfield colliery in South Yorkshire as Britain’s last remaining deep pit mine.
Jobs are also likely to go at UK Coal’s head office in Doncaster, South Yorkshire. In the North East , UK Coal employs more than 200 staff at opencast mines in Butterwell, near Morpeth, Potland Burn, near Ashington and Park Wall North, near Crook in Durham.
There is no suggestion that these sites will close at this stage. However, last night’s announcement will mean the majority of the 2,000 people currently employed by UK Coal facing a bleak future, just nine months after it was rescued from administration.
UK Coal is also negotiating to raise £10m in investment within weeks to save the company. If that fails, it has said it will turn to the Government for help.
Chris Kitchens, general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers, said workers at Thoresby had been served with statutory notification of redundancies and a consultation period of 45 days had begun.
The UK’s largest coal producer says it is in talks with stakeholders.