RJB bought Blenkinsopp Colliery, on the border between Northumberland and Cumbria, from shareholders including Alan Wardle, its managing director, in 1990. Yesterday RJB announced that Mr Wardle and his management had bought the colliery back for an undisclosed sum. It leaves RJB with 16 collieries acquired during the 1994 privatisation of British Coal.
Richard Budge, RJB's chief executive, said the decision to sell Blenkinsopp was not connected with the crisis over the industry's long-term future. "The mine is small and isolated from our mainstream operations. Its activities are best managed locally," said Mr Budge.
Blenkinsopp escaped privatisation in the 1940s. Mr Wardle said his family had remained connected with the pit, where he has worked since the 1960s.
The sale included about 25 compulsory redundancies at the pit, which will reduce the workforce to 100.