Government in crisis: Private firm offers hope

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The Independent Online
A PROSPECTIVE buyer for 15 of the 30 collieries under threat of closure emerged last night when Britain's second largest open cast mining contractor announced they could be operated profitably, writes Dean Nelson.

RJB, a family concern operating seven open cast mines with British Coal contracts extending until 1999, said imported coal prices could be undercut at 15 of the threatened deep seam pits with 'alterations in working procedures'.

The company, headed by Richard Budge, currently accounts for 20 per cent of coal from open cast mines. Mr Budge is a leading light in the coal producers organisation Coalpro, and is considered to be one of the industry's progressive figures. His company has British Coal contracts to supply more than 8.5 million tonnes of coal.

Mr Budge has met the British Coal chairman in recent days but a spokesman said an offer for any of the threatened pits was not discussed.