A Nottinghamshire MP has warned that the county's three remaining pits will close unless urgent action is taken.
Nottinghamshire was once one of Britain's biggest coal producers
Sherwood MP Paddy Tipping has demanded talks between the government and the power generators to save what remains of the county's coal industry.
He told the Commons Harworth, Welbeck and Thoresby would shut "within the foreseeable future" without help.
Science minister Malcolm Wicks told Mr Tipping he sympathised but there was little that could be done.
Nottinghamshire used to be one of Britain's biggest and most efficient providers of coal. Now it has three of the six deep mines left in Britain.
Speaking before a parliamentary debate, Mr Tipping outlined his concerns to the BBC.
"Cheap, imported coal isn't going to be there for ever," he said.
"China's opening one new power station a week. The price of international coal is going up.
"We want to be dependent not on imports but domestic products and that's why maintaining the three pits in Nottinghamshire really is fundamental."
Mr Tipping suggested that the power generators ought to pay a fair price for British coal.
"Harworth is presently mothballed. It will close. There's speculation about Welbeck and unless there's £25m worth of investment in Thoresby, which isn't currently available, that will close within two to three years."
Although Mr Wicks said the government was unable to help, he praised miners at Harworth.
"I would like to take this opportunity to commend the workforce at Harworth for the drive and determination they showed in trying to find a way forward for the mine only to be defeated by adverse conditions in the working seam," he said.