UPDATED: Kellingley Colliery to close within 18 months after government agrees £10m loan

Kellingley Colliery will close by the end of next year after the government decided there was no case for investment to keep the site open long term.

Thursday, 10th April 2014, 4:49 pm
Workers at Kellingley Colliery are holding a meeting with Yvette Cooper after UK Coal announced the pit will close unless the government step in to help.

Energy Minister Michael Fallon announced today that a £10m loan, alongside £10m from the private sector, would support the “managed closure” of the pit, which employs 700 workers, along with another at Thoresby, in Nottinghamshire.

In a written statement to MPs, Mr Fallon said: “The taxpayer is better served by supporting a managed closure of the mines.

“However, deep coal mining remains an inherently risky business. There is no value for money case for a level of investment that would keep the deep mines open beyond this managed wind-down period to autumn 2015.

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“Private sector investors who wish to put in the substantial investment that would be needed to maintain the mines beyond autumn 2015 without government support remain free to do so.”

Kevin McCullough, chief executive of UK Coal, said he was pleased the government had offered to help.

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 have been announcing an immediate insolvency and 2,000 job losses.

“We will work with government departments and agencies to find alternative work, or support, for employees as they leave the business over the next eighteen months.

“Regrettably, the historically low international coal price and a strong pound, mean our costs are too high to sustain an ongoing business and this is the only option available to the business.”

But workers at the site and Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper have vowed to fight for a long term future for Kellingley.

Ms Cooper said: “This is very grim news. It’s bitterly disappointing for the workers, their families and the wider community that this deal means closing Kellingley in 2015, ending once and for all a legacy of hundreds of years of coal mining in Yorkshire.

“The government must not turn its back on the deep mined coal industry now. I will be keeping up the fight over the next few months to try and find any last deal that will keep Kellingley open.”