By Daniel Hunter
UK Coal has confirmed it will close two of the last three deep pit coal mines left in the UK, in 2015.
It comes as the government revealed agreed to loan the troubled coal firm £10m for the “managed closure” of the Kellingley and Thoresby pits in North Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire, respectively.
UK Coal said it was seeking £20m of finance to ensure the pits did not have to be closed immediately. The news means that around 1,300 jobs will be lost when the pits close in the autumn of 2015.
The National Union of Mineworkers described it as “a kick in the teeth”.
Business Minister Michael Fallon said the government is providing the loan because the taxpayer would face “significant losses and liabilities” if the pits were forced to close immediately.
“Considering this, the taxpayer is better served by supporting a managed closure of the mines,” said Mr Fallon.
In a statement to Parliament, Mr Fallon said: “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.”
The government’s £10m loan is being batched by rival group Hargreaves Services and Harworth Estates, landlord of the two mines.
Chris Kitchen, the general secretary of the NUM said: “The union is disappointed with Michael Fallon’s response while still insisting on strings attached.
“No assistance has been given to coal, but the country will be reliant on coal for at least the next 10 years.
“We feel we have been treated like the poor relation when compared to other industries that have received government support. It’s a kick in the teeth.”
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