Coal mines named for closure were 'profitable'

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The Independent Online
FIVE OF the 10 pits under threat of imminent closure were sufficiently profitable to be privatised, according to British Coal's own advisers.

John T Boyd, a firm of American mining specialists hired by the corporation last year, named Parkside, Trentham, Betws, Grimethorpe and Houghton Main as collieries that were commercially viable. Miners at the five pits have been given 90 days' notice of their closure.

The same company has now been hired to look at profitability of the 21 pits which are the subject of a moratorium. It is not within its brief to investigate the position of the 10 collieries to close.

The 10 pits to close, while the subject of statutory notice, will not go through the industry's colliery review procedure, which can take up to nine months.

British Coal calculates that the 10 pits lost pounds 31m last year, but has refused to give pit-by-pit figures. It is believed that even under its own calculations at least two of the mines had shown a surplus.

Chris Mallander, of the Coalfield Communities Campaign, called for thorough and independent review of British Coal's plans and a ban on any closures until it was completed.

Mr Mallander said: 'In the past few weeks, the Government has committed so many U-turns and contradicted itself so often, that its policies for the coal industry are now totally discredited.'

The National Union of Mineworkers alleges that pitmen at the 10 mines to close have been under persuasion from management to take voluntary redundancy before the 90 days are up.