fuel fell from 108.1m tonnes in 1989 to 58.9m tonnes in 2008. Secondly, the domestic production of Britain’s coal declined even faster than coal’s share of the domestic energy market as imported coal has come to dominate the generating market for coal. In 1989 indigenous coal production was 99.8m tonnes and took 89% of the British coal market. By 2008 imported coal took 71% of the market at 43.9m tonnes, leaving 29% of the market for domestically produced coal. Lastly, the sourcing of domestically produced coal has changed. Deep mined coal now accounts for less than 50% of domestically produced coal whilst opencast’s share of the domestic market has grown to 54% at 9.5m tonnes in 2008. The previous report reached this conclusion about the future of domestic coal production: that a sustainable domestic coal industry seems to be dependent on increasing the proportion of coal produced by opencast methods. By 2021, if present trends continue, UK Coal plc’s last deep mine could be closed. This review then went on to discuss the current policies influencing coal and energy policies and discussed the likely future development of 180 new opencast sites as Britain’s coal policy, aimed at ensuring Energy Security, becomes increasingly dependent on opencast coal as the mainstay in domestic coal production.
As UK Coal plc is the major domestic coal producer and it is the only coal producer with both deep mines and opencast mines, it seems appropriate to examine the fortunes of this company in some depth because of its strategic importance in ensuring that the Government can deliver Energy Security with a policy that includes coal, especially domestically produced coal.
UK Coal plc, the company seeking planning permission for an opencast mine on the Minorca site, was known as RJB Mining until 2000. On the de-nationalisation of the UK Coal industry RJB Mining, a company who had been active in opencast mining, bought the majority of the assets of the de-nationalised coal industry. After privatisation it seems that RJB Mining then bought at least 19 deep mines 2 as well as becoming a major landowner, as it bought the extensive estate of British Coal, including the Minorca site. The company had transformed itself into becoming the major supplier of domestic coal.
SECTION 3: PAST, CURRENT AND FUTURE TRENDS IN UK COAL plc’s COAL PRODUCTION
As a consequence of the changes in the UK Energy Supply Market since 1995, RJB Mining, or UK Coal plc as it became in 2000, has been at the eye of the storm as the British coal industry has continued to adjust to the changing position of coal in the British energy mix. By 2008 its number of working collieries had fallen to four and the pattern of sourcing UK Coal plc’s supply in recent years has changed as outlined in Table1. Overall, since 2000, UK Coal’s production has fallen by 58% whereas the
UK COAL plc: AN ALTERNATIVE REPORTPAGE 8