End of an era for UK coal mining — last mines close up shop

End of an era for UK coal mining — last mines close up shop

Thoresby Colliery was once considered one of the most successful in the U.K. (© Copyright Chris Allen | Creative Commons Licence)

One of Britain’s last standing coal miners, UK Coal Holdings, said Friday it is shutting down its two last underground operations, marking the end of a 300-year industry that once employed over a million workers.

The first mine, Thoresby Colliery, is ceasing mining on Friday, and 360 employees will be made redundant, the company said in an e-mailed statement.

Operations at Kellingley mine will also end on or around December 15, UK Coal said.

The decision follows a long period of difficult trading conditions, largely due to low international coal prices and geological issues at both mines.

Only last week, Hatfield Colliery in South Yorkshire announced its immediate closure 14 months earlier than expected.

The U.K. imported 1.9 million metric tons of the solid fuel in April, compared with domestic production of 757,000 tons, according to the Department of Energy. Imported coal covered 84% of total consumption last year, compared with 21% in 1995.

End of an era for UK coal mining — last mines close up shop

Men leaving a UK colliery at the close of a shift. Painting by Gerald Palmer. Image from Wikipedia.