Miners to work their final shifts at Kellingley Colliery before closure


Miners at the UK's last remaining deep coal mine will work their final shifts today, ending underground production in this country.

The closure of Kellingley Colliery in North Yorkshire will mark the end of an era, writing the final chapter of deep coal mining history.

The 450 miners who work at the pit - known locally as the Big K - will receive severance packages at 12 weeks of average pay.

Chris Kitchen, general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), told the Press Association it was a "sad day" for the country as well as the industry.

"I am sure people will argue not burning coal is better for the environment, but as far as I am concerned this is another vindictive act."

Owners UK Coal will oversee the rundown of the pit before the site is redeveloped.

Miners from the pit will join a march in nearby Knottingley on Saturday to mark the closure.

UK Coal said it wanted to place on record its thanks to the Government, the major stakeholders, customers and suppliers for their support during the planned closure programme.

Shaun McLoughlin, the mine manager, said: "I would like to thank my colleagues for all their hard work and determination at this difficult time. Like them, I thought that I would see out my career here but it is not to be.

"This is a very sad day for everyone connected with the mine but I am proud that we have done the job safely and professionally."

The Board of UK Coal said: "This is a historic moment, but also one which will have a real impact on those who work at Kellingley, their families and the wider community.

"We, like the whole of the UK, owe a debt of immense gratitude to those who have done so much to help power this country over many decades."

Workers on the final shift are scheduled to return to the surface at around 12:45pm.

Kellingley began production in 1965, and its closure will complete a two-year closure plan for the UK's deep mines.

This has been implemented by UK Coal with financial support from the Government.

The company said the closures follow a long period of difficult trading conditions, largely due to low international coal prices.

After the end of the Second World War there were almost 1,000 collieries employing up to a million miners, making the industry a powerhouse and major employer in communities across Britain.

Coal from Kellingley will be exhibited at the National Coal Mining Museum in Wakefield.

Acting director Andy Smith said: "It is with great honour and sadness that we mark the end of not just an industry, but a loss of national heritage for the country. As a Yorkshire ex-miner I feel an immense sense of pride and responsibility for ensuring this heritage is not lost.

"We will continue to educate and inspire future generations about the history of coal mining and will display the last tonne of coal as a lasting reminder of deep-coal mining in Britain."