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Thursday, 9 August, 2001, 16:45 GMT 17:45 UK
Miners' despair at shock pit closure
Hatfied colliery
A Japanese bank pulled out of a deal with the colliery
A colliery in south Yorkshire has closed with the loss of 223 jobs, despite the fact there is at least 20 years of coal left underground.

Hatfield Coal Company Limited, which manages the pit near Doncaster, said the closure was "unavoidable".

The directors said they had agreed terms for long-term supply to the Drax power station but could not get the funding to continue trading.

The miners, some of whom have worked at the colliery since leaving school, were called out of the pit less than two hours into their morning shift and lost their jobs on the spot.

If you're a 55 year-old who's been down the pit all your life, what other job are you going to do? Road sweeping?

Dave Douglas, NUM

The company wanted to exploit 20 years of reserves in a new seam but was told last week the main funder, a Japanese bank, could no longer back the project.

After discussions with the Department of Trade and Industry, the managers decided they had no alternative but to place the company into liquidation.

Dave Douglas, the company's National Union of Mineworkers representative, said the workforce was in shock and blamed a lack of support from the government.

"They mined 900 tonnes of coal last night and there's another 900 million tonnes down there," he said.

"Management has got all the facts and figures to prove the mine would be profitable.

No buyer

"In another two or three years when this country's buying in coal for two or three times the amount we can produce it for, they'll say the miners were right."

Men at Hatfield have spent all their lives working as "face-cutters", which some describe as the most dangerous job in mining.

Mr Douglas continued: "If you're a 55 year-old who's been down the pit all your life, what other job are you going to do? Road sweeping?

"There's only 10 men on each shift who know how to do face-cutting. They're frontline men. All that experience will be gone."

Workers have been told that management approached UK Coal in the hope of finding a buyer but with no success.

The company said receivers will arrive at the colliery on Friday and the employees are being offered counselling.

About 15 maintenance workers have been given four weeks notice and redundancy terms for the miners are being prepared.

See also:

10 Jul 00 | Wales
Gas prospectors target colliery
17 Apr 00 | Business
Coal industry's stay of execution
18 Apr 00 | Wales
Job hopes pinned on gas station
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