Coal Investments to reopen two pits

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TWO CLOSED coal mines in the Midlands will be reopened within the next few months by Coal Investments, the company run by Malcolm Edwards, former commercial director of British Coal.

Coal Investments, which returned to the market last year, is raising pounds 11.5m through a rights issue to invest in the mines at Coventry and at Hem Heath, part of the Trentham colliery. Full details of the issue, which is being underwritten by Guinness Mahon, are not yet available.

Mr Edwards, who has agreed terms with British Coal to lease and license the two pits, is also interested in taking over at least three more mines where British Coal has ceased production. He believes that he will easily find customers for the coal among industrial and domestic users. Unlike British Coal he will not rely on sales to the electricity generators, National Power and PowerGen.

Coventry and Hem Heath are expected to produce a total of 400,000 tons a year. Mr Edwards said: 'The company can comfortably rely on selling 2 to 3 million tons of coal a year for the foreseeable future.'

The announcement comes in advance of tonight's Dispatches programme on Channel 4, which will allege that as many as 10 pits are being closed despite the fact that there is demand for the coal in industrial and domestic markets.

The programme accuses British Coal of abandoning or neglecting markets other than the supply of coal to power stations.