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Miners to vote on plan to save pit

THE FATE of a Scottish colliery will be decided this week when miners who each invested pounds 10,000 to take it over vote on a pounds 3m rescue package, writes John Arlidge.

The 160 men, who formed a workers' co-operative to restart production at Monktonhall Colliery in Lothian after British Coal closed it, stand to lose all but pounds 1,000 of their pounds 10,000 stakes under the deal put forward by RJB Mining, the South Yorkshire-based company. Most borrowed the money at high rates of interest or invested their redundancy payments.

Sources close to the talks between Monktonhall directors and RJB say the company plans to invest pounds 3m to open a second coal face, creating up to 40 jobs. A bid is expected this week. Without the new money, analysts say, the mine will close.

British Coal shut Monktonhall in 1989, but production resumed last November after the co-operative won a three-year takeover battle. In spite of lucrative contracts with Scottish Power, the electricity generator, production difficulties have meant that the new consortium has run up debts of pounds 1.8m.