U.K. to End 300 Years of Deep Coal Mining as Prices Slump – by Alessandro Vitelli (Bloomberg News – July 10, 2015)


Britain plans to close its last deep coal mine in December, spelling the death of an industry that’s kept the nation’s economy humming since the Industrial Revolution.

The U.K.’s last deep underground mine, located at Kellingley in northern England, will shut around Dec. 15, U.K. Coal Holdings Ltd. said in a statement. The company’s Thoresby mine ceases production on Friday.

The closing of Kellingley will mark the nation’s exit from an industry that employed more than a million workers at 3,000 pits a century ago. Since 2000, U.K. power generators Electricite de France SA to RWE AG bought more of the fuel from abroad, where coal from Australia to Colombia is cheaper, according to the Federation of U.K. Coal Producers. European prices slumped to an eight-year low in April.

“The U.K. coal industry has been in structural decline for 40 years,” Paolo Coghe, an analyst in Paris at Societe Generale SA, said Friday by phone. “It’s no longer positioned to withstand an extended period of low prices such as the one we are experiencing now.”

The U.K. had three operating deep mines through the end of June. A pit at Hatfield in northern England shut June 30 after failing to get additional government funding to cover the costs of a managed closure that was to be completed next summer, John Grogan, the chairman of the employee trust that owns the mine, said Friday by phone.

Deep pits accounted for 38 percent of the U.K.’s coal output in April, with surface mines making up the rest, Department of Energy data showed.

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