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Friday, 30 August, 2002, 03:48 GMT 04:48 UK
Oldest coal mine to close
Coal mine
The Prince of Wales started production in the 1860s
Britain's oldest working coal mine, the 140-year-old Prince of Wales in West Yorkshire, is to close on Friday with the loss of 450 jobs.

Mining operations at the Pontefract colliery were phased out after pit owners, UK Coal, said further investment could not be justified.

The move follows news last month that the more modern Selby complex of three pits will also soon close, with 2,000 job losses.

The Prince of Wales had been Pontefract's main employer for generations, but last year, two underground faults were discovered.

This led to the shelving of plans for a multi-million pound development to gain access to eight million tonnes of untapped coal.

Redundancies

An independent review of the pit was commissioned and paid for by the Department of Trade and Industry to look into the faults.

UK Coal said the in-depth review had shown that the pit would make "substantial losses" for the foreseeable future, adding that the problem was geological rather than a lack of investment.

The most optimistic forecast showed losses of 36 million over the next two years, rising to 164 million under different options, it said.

The pit, one of 14 operated by UK Coal, produced coal mainly for power stations.

Mineworkers have been offered alternative jobs at other collieries in Yorkshire or redundancy payments of up to 27,000.


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01 Aug 02 | England
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