428 out of work as Hatfield pit closes a year early

EMPLOYEE-owned Hatfield Colliery near Doncaster has ceased production of coal a year earlier than planned - leaving 428 miners and support staff facing redundancy within months.

Hatfield Colliery

The pit was due to shut in the summer of 2016 but the move has been brought forward unexpectedly.

Doncaster North MP Ed Miliband said he was trying to arrange a meeting with the energy minister tomorrow and has called a debate in the House of Commons on Thursday.

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John Grogan, Chairman of Hatfield Colliery Employment Benefit Trust, has confirmed that the mine, one of the three remaining deep coal mines in the country and which first produced coal in 1916, faces closure a year early following a refusal by the Government to provide more assistance.

He said that faced with dramatic falls in world coal prices earlier this year the Government agreed to provide up to £20 million of aid approved by the European Union to Hatfield to enable it to complete its business plan and mine until planned closure in Summer 2016.

He said: “The problem was that whilst one arm of Government was agreeing a grant to Hatfield another arm was at almost exactly the same time doubling their very own top-up carbon levy from £9.54 to £18.08 per tonne of CO2.

“As the Confederation of Coal Producers has repeatedly warned the Government the inevitable result was that the energy companies stockpiled coal in advance of the increase in April destroying the market for Hatfield coal. Our local MP Ed Miliband approached the big electricity generators on our behalf after the Government declined to do so and we have been able to secure some offers for two thirds of the expected production over the next year including one from EDF Energy.

“Given the mountains of coal at the power stations these offers are at much reduced prices and we would need an extra £12 million from Government to complete our plan and mine until next year.”

He said the treasury would receive at least this amount from taxes paid by the staff and in VAT if the mine stayed open.

Doncaster North MP Mr Miliband said he felt deep disappointment at the closure.

The former Labour leader said he met with ministers yesterday night and they would not move on refusing to provide any more money. He said he was doing all he could to rescue the mine.

Mr Miliband wants the Government to intervene.

He said the closure was short sighted. he said: “There is going to be a clean coal power station at Drax I talked to Drax a few days ago to make a final appeal for them to buy from Hatfield.

He said they had admitted to him that they would probably be buying in foreign coal to the new power station.