400 jobs to be lost as coal mine closes

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The Independent Online

RJB MINING is planning to close the last deep coal mine in the North-east of England with the loss of 400 jobs, it emerged yesterday.

RJB MINING is planning to close the last deep coal mine in the North-east of England with the loss of 400 jobs, it emerged yesterday.

The 90-year-old Ellington pit in Northumberland is expected to be shut next year and staff and unions will be told of the plans today.

Ellington was closed by British Coal in 1994 in the run-up to privatisation but was bought and reopened two months later by RJB.

Its workings extend under the North Sea for some 15km, but it is thought that geological conditions have made it difficult to mine. RJB explored new reserves at the site over the past 18 months but the coal found was not of a high enough quality for its customers.

The company has a further three surface mines in the North-east.

It is expected to draw on these resources to continue supplying a three-year contract with Alcan aluminium, which has a smelter near the Ellington colliery.

RJB, which owns a total of 13 deep mines in England, is also reviewing its poorly performing Stillingfleet colliery in Yorkshire.

A spokesman refused yesterday to give details of the company's plans for the Ellington pit but confirmed: "We have a meeting with the mining unions at Ellington tomorrow to discuss the future of the mine."

At the time of the pit closure in 1994 it was thought Ellington could run for between five and eight years.

Britain's coal producers will today lodge a complaint with the European Commission accusing Poland of dumping coal in the UK at prices below their production costs.

The Confederation of UK Coal Producers claims British pits and jobs are being put in jeopardy by Polish exports at pithead prices up to 25 per below the cost of production.

"It is indefensible for Poland to undermine the economy of a community it is anxious to join," said the director-general, Gerry Mousley.

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