Heseltine appoints consultancy to investigate pit closures

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The Independent Online
Despite protests from unions, Michael Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade, last night appointed Boyds, a US mining consultancy, to investigate the viability of the 10 most vulnerable collieries. The High Court suggested on Monday that the firm, which is investigating the viability of 21 other pits under threat of closure, could provide the necessary 'independent' scrutiny of British Coal's plans. In an earlier assessment, Boyds said that it believed five of the 10 mines could be viable.

Mining unions say Boyds, as a government consultant, is not independent. The court order is expected to lead to negotiations in the new year between management and unions over the precise meaning of the High Court declaration.

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