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650 jobs may go as coal mine closes
One of the UK's last remaining coal mines is to shut with the loss of up to 650 jobs.
The decision to close Daw Mill Colliery in north Warwickshire follows a major fire last month, the largest in a UK coal mine in more than 30 years.
A small team will remain on site to secure the mine over the coming months but owner UK Coal Mine Holdings said the majority of Daw Mill's 650-strong workforce will be made redundant.
The company said the fire is still burning ferociously at a depth of 740 metres, with no signs of it reducing despite ventilation being turned off to starve the flames of oxygen.
Chief executive Kevin McCullough said: "This has been a terrible week, not just for the company and its employees but also for the energy security of the country, as it brings an end to 47 years of coal production at Daw Mill."
The company's deep mines at Kellingley in North Yorkshire and Thoresby in Nottingham, together with its surface mines, will continue to produce coal for use in the UK's power stations. It is the latest blow to the industry after Hargreaves Services said Maltby Colliery in Rotherham, which has been producing coal for more than 100 years, was no longer viable on health and safety grounds.
UK Coal Mine Holdings is the the country's biggest coal producer, supplying about 5% of the UK's energy needs. Daw Mill has been at risk of closure since March last year when it was announced that a restructuring was needed to safeguard its medium-term future. A complex overhaul of the business achieved "medium-term security" for the mine, providing it was able to produce coal safely, reliably and efficiently.
Mr McCullough said: "Having successfully completed the restructuring, and being only weeks away from returning to healthy production, this ferocious fire has dealt a blow to everything we tried to achieve over the last 12 months - in just 10 days."
The company said it was exploring the possible transfer of some staff to other mines. It is also in discussions with officials at the Department of Energy and Climate Change over managing the closure of Daw Mill and seeking a way forward for the remaining mines.
Energy minister John Hayes said: "Our priority during this unsettling time for employees is to ensure that everyone is given our full support. Job Centre Plus, the Skills Funding Agency, BIS West Midlands and local skills bodies are ready to offer their considerable expertise if needed. I know there is an opportunity for some workers to be redeployed at UK Coal's other deep mines at Thoresby and Kellingley."