British Coal set to close 'reprieved' Frickley

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BRITISH COAL plans to close Frickley colliery near Pontefract with the loss of 740 jobs. It said that two-thirds of the pit's output was being stockpiled because of reduced demand for coal and that future prospects for Frickley were 'bleak'.

The announcement follows a review of British Coal's northern collieries which is also expected to culminate in the closure of Bentley and Hatfield mines. All three are among 12 pits which were 'reprieved' after the Government's White Paper on the industry this year.

British Coal said it would try to accommodate men at Frickley who wish to move to other pits but the chances of doing so may be 'limited'.

The company painted a brighter picture north of the border, saying that the outlook for Longannet mine in Scotland is 'promising'. Eddy Hindmarsh, the head of operations, said: 'The commercial reality is that if the Longannet mine is to remain profitable, unit production costs will have to reduce consistently in the years ahead.'

Longannet supplies a neighbouring power station run by Scottish Power. The generator is in negotiations with British Coal for long-term coal supplies.

British Coal said that the situation in England and Wales was increasingly serious because of the imbalance between supply and demand. Sales of coal to the electricity industry have declined more than expected this year.

Earlier this week National Power said it would buy no more coal in the current financial year and said that it would close 10 coal-fired power stations by the end of the decade.