'Viable' mine fails to find private buyer: Shadow hangs over British Coal sell-off

GRIMETHORPE, the colliery famed for its brass band, must close because British Coal has received no bids from private companies to take over the mine. Grimethorpe is one of the pits that the government advisers, J T Boyd, said was viable and could have had a long-term future.

The high-profile South Yorkshire colliery is one of five in the third phase of British Coal's attempts to lease and license mines where its own production has ceased. Two other doomed pits in the same phase for which no bids were received are Houghton Main, also in South Yorkshire and Westoe in South Shields.

Although four tenders came in for Vane Tempest in Co Durham and Trentham at Stoke-on-Trent, only one of those proposals would involve restarting underground mining.

British Coal has received 17 bids for 14 mines offered for lease and licence, but about six are interested only in the mines' surface, for operations including waste recycling. Bids for the final five of a total of 19 mines to be offered are due within two weeks.

The organisations which are interested in reviving deep mining at the pits are believed to include British mining companies R J Budge and Ryan and a team led by Malcolm Edwards, the former commercial director of British Coal. No large international coal companies have come forward to operate the pits.

The inability of British Coal to attract global coal firms casts a further shadow on government plans to sell off the company next year. While mining has already stopped at all 19 pits on offer to the private sector, it is now thought that a further 12 'reprieved' collieries will close because there are no customers for the coal. A growing threat also hangs over some of British Coal's 'safe core' of 19 mines as coal's share of the electricity generating market continues to fall due to use of gas and nuclear power.

Ann Clwyd, the Labour Party's spokeswoman on heritage, yesterday accused the Government of being 'economically illiterate and cynical' for permitting around 200 redundancies at Tower colliery in her Cynon Valley constituency in Wales, which is one of the safe core of 19 mines.

British Coal says the cuts - representing about half the workforce - are needed because of lack of demand for Tower's output and excessive stockpiling of coal.

'We now know the true measure of what is planned for the 19 pits that the Government had assured us were safe,' Mrs Clywd said.

She also alleged that British Coal had resorted to 'bully-boy' tactics including threats because only seven men volunteered to take redundancy.

'Having promised a secure future for a pit that made pounds 1m profit last year, the Government now proposes to sacrifice it at the altar of its botched electricity privatisation. The so-called 'free market' in energy supply is a rigged one that discriminates against coal production and consumption,' Ms Clwyd said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions