Tapping a lucrative seam

More than 3,500 jobs will be safeguarded and a further 100 created as £36.4 million is released to the coal industry under the UK Government’s Coal Investment Aid scheme.

More than 3,500 jobs will be safeguarded and a further 100 created as £36.4 million is released to the coal industry under the Government’s Coal Investment Aid (CIA) scheme, Energy Minister Stephen Timms announced today.

According to a statement from the DTI, twelve coalmines were offered £52.5 million under the scheme last November, which allows governments of EU member states to pay investment aid for mines that have a viable future.

Ten have now accepted, securing the £36.4 million investment and some 3,675 jobs. The money will be paid to mines in instalments as the investment projects proceed.

The remaining £16.1 million remains on offer to a further two mines, Hatfield and Ellington, who have until the end of March 2004 to accept.

A further offer of £2.2 million has been made to Tower Colliery in South Wales which could safeguard a further 420 jobs and preserve access to an estimated 3.5 million tonnes of reserves.

‘Coal still plays a vital part in the UK’s energy mix accounting for around 35 per cent of electricity supplied in the UK,’ said Timms.

‘There are challenges facing the industry, but there are opportunities out there both in mining and electricity generation,’ added Timms. ‘That’s why we fought for agreement with our EU colleagues to provide up to 30 per cent of the costs of investment.’