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Pic of the week: Tears at end of deep coal mining in UK

By Kerry McKittrick

Published 19/12/2015

Our picture of the week
Our picture of the week

This is the soot-stained, down-trodden face of one of 60 miners completing the final shift at the Kellingley Colliery in north Yorkshire yesterday.

The pit has now finished production, bringing an end to deep coal mining in the UK. A centuries-old industry has ended with a whimper, not a bang.

The remaining 450 workers at the mine were given redundancy packages of 12 weeks' pay. Some are the last in many generations of mining families.

Yesterday, there were tears and emotional farewells from workers who have now seen their entire family history and way of life come to an end. Many of the workers left bearing lumps of coal as mementos of their time down the mine.

The closure of both Kellingley (and Thoresby Colliery in Nottinghamshire) were announced in April 2014.

Along with the Hatfield Colliery, these were the last three deep coal mines in the UK.

Hatfield, operated by an employee-owned trust, was closed in June this year due to financial pressures.

The site of the Kellingley Colliery will now be run down. The mine will eventually be filled with concrete and the surface buildings demolished before being passed to a development company.

Up until the 1960s, coal was the main source of fuel and energy production in the UK.

At its peak, in 1913, 287 million tonnes were produced and, in 1952, the number of deep coal mines in the country had reached 1,334.

With the creation of new, cleaner and more renewable energy technologies, in particular nuclear power, UK coal production plummeted to 17.8 million tonnes by 2009. Domestic use of coal also dropped drastically due to pollution concerns. Cheap imported coal from Europe further decreased the demand for coal produced in the UK.

Open coal mining still exists and there are thought to be 26 open cast mines in the UK today, producing around 10 million tonnes of coal.

Almost 500 people face an uncertain future this Christmas with the closure of Kellingley, known locally as 'The Big K'.

Members of the National Union of Miners have criticised the Government for not doing enough to support the workers.

Belfast Telegraph

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