Tony Lodge writes about British Mining for the Yorkshire Post on 29 October 2016
THE last deep coal mine in Britain closed last year. King Coal died when the Kellingley miners signed off just before Christmas.
"For a number of years, the sector had been unable to compete with cheap imports and rising carbon taxes which penalised coal’s biggest market in the power stations. Generating electricity by burning coal is likely to have ended in Britain by the early 2020s as it is now deemed environmentally unacceptable. So this is the end for coal in Britain. Isn’t it?
Many with a history in coal mining, or with family who worked in the industry, will tell you that not all coal is the same. There are many varieties, each with different uses, alongside the traditionally favoured thermal coal which is used in power stations to generate electricity. This ‘thermal coal’ type was always the priority for the old National Coal Board with its large and hungry electricity generating customers with their once numerous coal-fired plants.
A good example was Selby, where Britain’s last major coalfield was sunk. Six separate mines, joined together, started production in 1983. This had taken a decade and £1.4bn (£4.5bn today) to get into full production. Over 20 years, 121 million tonnes of thermal coal, accessed by 460 miles of underground roadway, was recovered. It supplied the power stations at Drax, Eggborough and Ferrybridge from an underground coal resource the size of the Isle of Wight. The Selby complex closed in 2004.
Importantly, other types of higher grade coal were also produced for other industries; these had markets in manufacturing, in particular the steel and related industries. It is this large market, for high quality ‘coking’ coal which is used to make steel, that looks set to underpin, and deliver, Britain’s first new deep coal mine for a generation.
To read the full article, visit the Yorkshire Post website