More closures threaten 1,000 pit jobs

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(First Edition)

ALMOST 1,000 miners' jobs were under threat last night after British Coal announced the proposed closure of one supposedly 'safe' pit and began moves to shut another, writes Michael Harrison. Further closures are expected to be signalled today when the future of pits in Nottinghamshire is reviewed.

If the two collieries - Goldthorpe, near Doncaster, and Manton, near Worksop, Nottinghamshire - do close it would leave British Coal with just 19 pits - the same number it announced would be left when it unveiled its controversial 'hit list' of 31 colliery closures in October 1992.

Production will cease at Goldthorpe next month if, as expected, the 410 miners accept redundancy payments of up to pounds 37,000. Meanwhile a reconvened review meeting to decide on Manton's future is set for Friday.

The 550 miners at the pit, which like Goldthorpe had been considered 'safe', expect the closure to be a formality.

John Longden, director of British Coal's Midlands group, told union leaders that although recent colliery closures had brought supply and demand temporarily into balance, there would still be more than 14 million tons of coal stocked at pits at the end of March. He warned that a further increase in stocks during the summer would pose a threat to the survival of the best collieries.

Robin Cook, Labour's trade and industry spokesman, said Manton was one of the most efficient pits in Europe and its closure would be a piece of 'vindictive vandalism'.