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Last Updated: Monday, 2 April 2007, 08:51 GMT 09:51 UK
Mining returns to once-doomed pit
Coal miners by a coal pit head
Many deep coal pits in the UK have been closed
A mine in South Yorkshire is bringing coal to the surface for the first time in 13 years.

Hatfield Colliery near Doncaster, which closed in 1994 when the coal industry was privatised, becomes the ninth deep shaft coal mine operational in the UK.

Rising prices of coal and other forms of energy on world markets have made mining a realistic prospect again.

Hatfield's owner, Richard Budge, has spent 100m to bring the pit back to life, creating 350 jobs in the process.

He told the BBC: "Most people think it is unbelievable that you can reopen an old colliery, but we have done that.

"I always thought there was a future for coal but a lot of other people didn't think that.

"The rest of the world has been investing in the industry since we started to close ours down. It's a UK disease not a world disease."

There still hundreds years of coal left in Yorkshire - but people seem more interested in going down the nuclear option
Dave Hadfield, former mine worker

His company, Powerfuel, plans to drive 70m down to the Barnsley Seam, which contains some 27 million tonnes of recoverable coal.

That represents about half of the UK's accessible coal.

After it becomes fully operational next year, Hatfield will produce between 2 and 2.5 million tonnes a year - enough to supply electricity to Leeds and Sheffield simultaneously.

In addition, there is a site east of Hatfield which contains a further 75 million tonnes, for which Powerfuel is seeking permission to mine.

Powerfuel's Richard Budge and Joy Mining chairman David Johnson
Richard Budge [right] agreed the biggest machinery deal in 20 years

Powerfuel has secured major deals to supply coal to power producer E.On and Drax power station at Selby.

In the longer term, it has also been given planning permission on a neighbouring site for a 1.2bn "clean" power station, which could be operational by 2012.

Dave Hadfield, a former branch delegate at Silverwood colliery in Rotherham, said: "It's obviously a good thing if any pit reopens.

"It's going to be a good thing for the area and the former workers, because it's a totally different experience working down a coal mine, so they will go for experienced men."

But Mr Hadfield remained wary about the future of the coal industry.

He said: "There still hundreds years of coal left in Yorkshire, but people seem more interested in going down the nuclear option."




SEE ALSO
Coal mine invests 37m in future
20 Aug 06 |  Business
Clean coal can plug UK's energy gap
10 Aug 06 |  Science/Nature
New mining prospects for colliery
20 Mar 06 |  South Yorkshire
Can Britain go back to coal?
19 Oct 04 |  Magazine

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