As a fire blazes on at Daw Mill, UK’s largest coal pit, operators UK Coal have decided to the plug on its operations.
The pit remains unsafe for workers for months to come, and the decision was made to close the area — putting 650 employees out of work and further strain on energy production.
UK Coal Chief Executive Kevin McCullough expressed concerns regarding the energy security of the UK. The company produces 5 per cent of the coal used to generate electricity in Britain, and is the major supplier to E.ON’s Ratcliffe power station in Central England.
He told the Telegraph: “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.”
“This ferocious fire has dealt a blow to everything we tried to achieve over the last 12 months – in just 10 days.”
The effects threaten to run even deeper. Energy Minister John Hayes is hesitating to provide financial support to the company during this troubling time and with more than 1,000 total job losses looming, taxpayers could foot the bill for the pension pay out.
Meanwhile, Energy Secretary Ed Davey says the UK could potentially face blackouts as coal-fire power stations quickly deplete their pollution allowances from the EU and must close.
The sudden closure of Daw Mill threatens to further widen the ‘electricity gap’, where demand outstrips supply.
Five Facts About Coal Energy
- Coal still consistently provides between 40 percent and 50 percent of the UK’s electricity needs
- In the ’80s, coal employed more than 100,000 in Britain
- UK Coal is the UK’s biggest coal producer
- Coal’s use peaked in the 19th century, when it was needed to fuel steam engines
- Russia and Columbia account for 60 percent of UK’s coal imports