After this year, there will be no more deep coal mines in the United Kingdom. It marks an end to a 300-year legacy of producing coal — a cruel irony as the country struggles with a virtual energy crisis.
In 1913, the U.K. coal industry employed more than one million people at 3,000 mining pits, but by mid-December of this year the country’s last deep underground coal mine will be shut down. It’s already stopped producing coal and began the process of closing.
For decades, the number of U.K. coal mines has fallen dramatically, mostly due to cheap coal production from abroad. Increasingly, cheaper coal from Australia, Asia and even South America supplanted more costly British coal. The competition has also put downward pressure on prices, spurring more mine shutdowns.
Coal prices have dramatically fallen in the last couple years alone because supply is outpacing demand, according to Bloomberg. “China reduced imports fell 10 percent in 2014 from a year earlier and may plunge as much as 42 percent in 2015,” Bloomberg reports. “The world’s five largest exporters, including Australia, Colombia and Russia, trimmed shipments by 5.5 percent to 218 million tons in the second quarter from the same quarter a year earlier, while purchases by the eight largest importers dropped 6.5 percent to 150 million tons in the same period.”
“The U.K. coal industry has been in structural decline for 40 years,” Paolo Coghe, an energy analyst at Societe Generale, told Bloomberg. “It’s no longer positioned to withstand an extended period of low prices such as the one we are experiencing now.”
At the start of 2015, three deep coal mines were operating in Britain. By June two had closed, leaving the Kellingley mine in northern England the mine standing. But after this year, there will be no more deep coal mines in the country.
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