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Wednesday, 12 September, 2001, 12:24 GMT 13:24 UK
Buyer named for struggling colliery
Hatfield colliery
The future of the pit could be secured by October
A preferred buyer has been named for a struggling colliery in South Yorkshire which has been facing the axe since going into liquidation in August.

The Hatfield pit, near Doncaster, has received 200,000 in the past month from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to keep it ticking over until a buyer could step in.

On Wednesday the Coal Authority named Richard Budge as the potential saviour of the mine, picking him from a shortlist of three candidates.

Mr Budge was formerly chief executive of RJB Mining, now UK Coal, and has formed a new company called CoalPower.

We look forward to restarting mining operations at Hatfield as soon as possible

Richard Budge
To provide time for him to complete the purchase and to put in place funding and management, the authority will maintain the mine until 5 October.

Hatfield Colliery employed 223 people and has an estimated 20 years of coal left underground.

'Early implementation'

John Delaney, Coal Authority corporate affairs manager, said: "The proposal submitted by Richard Budge has been chosen because it offers the prospect of early implementation.

"It also minimises the burden on the public purse.

Richard Budge
Mr Budge: Optimistic about future

"Whilst uncertainties remain, we believe the approach by Mr Budge offers the most practicable option for keeping the colliery in production."

Mr Budge said: "We are delighted to have reached this stage in our negotiations.

"None of the outstanding issues should present any problem and we look forward to restarting mining operations at Hatfield as soon as possible."

Hatfield Coal Company closed the colliery on 9 August on advice from the DTI and the Coal Authority, despite having agreed terms for long-term supply to the Drax power station.

The company said it could not secure the finance to continue trading after the main funder, a Japanese bank, pulled out of the project.

Energy Minister Brian Wilson has said Hatfield Colliery is of great importance to the local community.

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