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EXCLUSIVE: Thoresby Colliery set to close next year

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Thoresby Colliery looks set to close by the end of next year with the loss of all 600 jobs, the Chad can exclusively reveal.

The general secretary of the Union Democratic of Mineworkers (UDM), Mick Stevens, spoke to Chad this afternoon to clarify that 228 jobs are set to go within weeks at the last remaining coal mine in Nottinghamshire.

The remaining jobs will go by the end of the Autumn next year, if a suitable investor is not found.

In total, more than 2,000 jobs look set to be lost as Kellingley Colliery in South Yorkshire also faces closure.

Owners UK Coal are yet to comment, but the news follows a lengthy meeting in London last night between the company, union officials and a potential investor.

UK Coal finally admitted this week they needed ‘at least’ £10 million keep several of their pits open, including Thoresby.

It has now been agreed that £10 million will be pumped into the operation by the Government, with another £10 million from stakeholders.

However, this is only to oversee mining of the existing coal faces before a final closure next year.

UDM’s Mick Stevens, who said the crunch meeting went on until the early hours of this morning, expressed his frustration at the outcome, but vowed to fight on.

He said: “We are not going to give up on it, and we are calling on all of the miners at Thoresby to call on their MPs to get involved.

“From that meeting it became clear that the coal industry became very much secondary.

“These men at Thoresby have been working at 120 per cent and they are being slapped in the face.

“It’s Margaret Thatcher all over again. We are not sitting back and accepting it.”

He hopes that investment is possible, but says the closer Thoresby Colliery gets to closure, the less financially viable it will become to open another coal face and start mining again.

Sherwood MP Mark Spencer told the Chad earlier this week his biggest concern was that any cash being pumped into UK Coal would only serve as a stay of execution, and this afternoon expressed his disappointment with the company for wanting to wind the pits down.

He said: “Had the Government not stepped in when it did, the gates would have been closed weeks ago.

“This is very much a stay of execution, but I still think there’s an opportunity to move forward.

“The money is going into to keep this going for another 18 months. The challenge for UK Coal is to put the development in for the next coal face to secure those jobs, but they are saying now that they want to throw in the towel, which is disappointing.

“However, it gives us a window to look for the next investor.

“I don’t think we should rest from trying to find one, but it has to stack up economically.”

UK Coal had told Chad earlier in the week that Thoresby had been performing well, but falling coal prices around the globe and the strength of the pound against the dollar had triggered the financial problems.

Chancellor George Osborne had only visited the pit in November, and promised it still had a future.

But with Thoresby and Kellingley Colliery facing closure, it is understood that more coal will be imported form Russia to satisfy Britain’s demand, a suggestion that angers UDM’s Mick Stevens.

“I believe it’s an absolute ridiculous situation for this country to be in, given the way relations are with Russia at the moment,” he said.

“They are shutting our mines and I really feel for the lads who will lose their jobs.

“The lads have been producing incredible results and Thoresby is the jewel in the crown. It’s just ridiculous.”

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