The future of coal mining looks set to be extinguished by the end of next year, a process started by a previous Tory government. This was proved by the release of government papers under the 30 year rule, showing it was their intention to decimate the industry and undermine the strength of the National Union of Mineworkers.
The current government have agreed to give a commercial loan to UK Coal of £5 million to enable both Thoresby Colliery in Nottinghamshire and Kellingley Colliery in Yorkshire to mine their current coal faces. This is not a loan to keep the coal mines open, it is a loan to close them next year.
Coal will be required to generate electricity for at least the next decade, would it not be in the interest of the UK to retain as much indigenous and secure coal supply as possible instead of relying on imported coal from unstable countries, transported around the world creating a massive carbon footprint? We need a coal supply that can be used to generate electricity cleanly with the help of carbon capture and storage that would reduce carbon emissions and secure a balanced energy supply,
The National Union of Mineworkers along with the other mining unions are working with UK Coal to pursue a claim for European State Aid that would allow the mining industry to remain open until December 2018, with the option if the State Aid was to be paid back, that the mines could continue further. It has been reported that Thoresby Colliery’s reserves would run out in 2018 but that is only in the current seam of coal they are working. There is the potential to work further seams that could continue to supply quality coal to our power stations and save many local jobs.
The price of coal on the open market at the time UK Coal announced its intention to close the two mines, was low due mainly to the cheap coal from the United States and its use of fracking. This supply has now started to dry up and the coal price on the open market is gradually rising, making our indigenous coal more attractive and profitable.
So let’s put pressure on this government to keep what is left of our greatest national resource working for the benefit of our economy and people. The longer it takes for them to make a decision, the more funds would be needed to restart the developments at our remaining mines. In fact I would say let’s re- nationalise this industry and invest in the years of good quality coal beneath our feet to supply our energy needs.