Beleaguered miners thrown lifeline

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A community of miners appeared to have won an 11th-hour lifeline last night with the emergence of a possible new bidder for Britain's first co-operative colliery. A delegation of miners led by Eric Clarke, Labour MP for Midlothian, met John Battle, the Minister for Science, Industry and Energy, to discuss the future of the beleaguered Monktonhall mine in Scotland.

Mr Clarke named the company expressing interest as Midlands-based Caledonian Mining. The Coal Authority last night confirmed that it is to meet company officials today. Tomorrow the officials will hold talks with Mr Clarke, the National Union of Mineworkers branch at Monktonhall, near Edinburgh and the local authority.