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Monday, January 18, 1999 Published at 23:33 GMT

Business: The Company File

Black day for historic pit

The closure will affect all 386 pit workers

Britain's oldest coal mine is closing in the face of continuous losses from the pit.

The BBC's Steve Beech: "A series of blows for the colliery"
Annesley Bentinck colliery in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, which mainly supplies coal to power stations, has been losing millions of pounds and has become uneconomic, according to management.

Production will end in October and all 386 workers will be made redundant.

"It is a very sad day," said the pit's technical director Andrew Purcell.

[ image:  ]
"We have invested a significant amount of money at Annesley over the past two years and have changed the method of working, but we have failed to achieve the sort of production improvements we hoped for," he added.

The pit, which opened in 1865, was closed by British Coal in 1994 before being sold to a four-man management team in 1996.

Midland Mining invested around £10m but, after closing its only other pit at Silverdale in Staffordshire last year, will now go out of business.

Mr Purcell said he had expected both pits to continue producing coal for up to 15 years.

Around 100 jobs were cut at Annesley Bentinck last September, which were blamed on production problems with a coal face and suspended development work.

According to Mr Purcell, the pit had been hit by geological problems but the main reason for the closure is economic.

Annesley Bentinck's closure will leave just a handful of pits in the once-thriving Nottinghamshire coalfield.

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