British Coal pit in 9m pounds comeback

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The Independent Online
BRITISH COAL is to invest pounds 9m to restart production at Maltby colliery near Rotherham, South Yorkshire, which until a year ago employed 1,000 people. The mine ceased production 11 months ago but was kept under development.

British Coal said that it is too early to say how many men will be employed at Maltby, adding that the pit is to be merged with nearby Silverwood colliery, where 500 men work. The first face at Maltby will be opened in September with a second coalface coming onstream in April 1995.

Alan Houghton, British Coal northern group director, said that the coal from the pit would be very clean, with a low ash and sulphur content which would make it attractive to customers. The company is battling to win domestic and industrial customers in the face of shrinking demand from the generators, National Power and PowerGen.

A spokesman for British Coal said that reopening Maltby would not 'take bread out of the mouths of other British Coal mines. The matching of supply and demand is a very dynamic thing and takes long-term planning. The comeback of Maltby would have been planned a long time ago'.

Next month, British Coal faces a further drop from 40 to 30 million tonnes in annual sales to the generators. Its chairman, Neil Clarke, warned earlier this week of an imminent price war with private mining companies over sales outside the electricity sector.

Speaking at a coal industry meeting, Mr Clarke said: 'This will not be war without casualties. It would seem that ultimately some producers will be squeezed from the market.'