The number of people working in coal mining in Britain continues to drop according to the latest statistics compiled by the Coal Authority.
According to the Coal Authority’s employment numbers for July to September, seen by DeSmog UK, just under 700 people are now working in surface or underground coal mining.
This is down from 732 people who worked in coal mining jobs in June, and down almost 40 percent compared to this time last year when 1,146 people were employed in these jobs.
In an effort to tackle climate change the UK has pledged to phase out all unabated coal (coal without technology attached to suck up and store emissions) by 2025. In 2016 emissions from coal dropped by 50 percent compared to the previous year and coal use continues to reach record lows. In April, Britain had its first ever coal-free day since the Industrial Revolution.
Despite the declining industry, however, fossil fuel companies often cite “job creation” as a benefit in an effort to sell new projects to communities and government.
Source: Coal Authority
It appears the drop in the number of jobs has come in large part due to five fewer active mines compared to last year.
The FFos y Fran coal mine in the Welsh town of Merthyr Tydfil continues to employ the most people in the UK, with 180 jobs as of September. In Scotland, mining in East Ayrshire employs the majority with 164 jobs in September.
And in England, coal mines in Northumberland are the largest mining employer, with 95 jobs. The main two mines in this area are operated by Banks Mining and owned by Matt Ridley, a member of the House of Lords, Times columnist and member of the climate science denying Global Warming Policy Foundation.
Despite the rapid decline in coal, another Northumbrian opencast mine has been proposed by Banks Mining near Druridge Bay and currently awaits a decision by government.
“We need to leave coal in the ground. But coal workers and communities mustn’t be abandoned - they can play a key role in the clean energy future, if we do the transition right,” said Mika Minio-Paluello, campaign group Platform's energy economist. “The enemy looks like coal baron and climate denier Matt Ridley – not those employed in the mines.”
Minio-Paluello continued: “We don’t know whether the falling job figures are due to cuts to health and safety standards, or because mines are closing, but we know we need a rapid coal phase-out and decent climate jobs for all who want them.”
Photo: Kyla Mandel