WORKERS at an under-threat North Yorkshire colliery are considering buying it themselves.
Ministers are currently allowing the managed closure of Kellingley Colliery by the end of 2015, with the loss of more than 700 jobs, but it was announced yesterday that the miners were themselves thinking of placing a bid to keep it running.
Keith Hartshorne who is the elected NUM representative for Kellingley and has worked at the colliery since 1988 said the plans were in the early stages, but this was a serious option.
He said: "UK Coal have been trying to get investors involved, and we were in a bit of a position at that time where we weren't producing and losing money. Now we're in a position again where we're back in production and producing 50,000 tonnes of coal a week and making money again. We're back making money and if no-one else wants to take the company on longer than the 18-month rundown period, we're asking if we could buy it ourselves."
Mr Hartshorne said the NUM had worked with an advisor in recent weeks and a steering committee group had been formed with the major unions at Kellingley to create a feasibility study for the bid.
He said: "We're looking at ways and means of what we would need to put in to do such a thing. We would put so much in ourselves and some from other funding and hopefully if everything went the way we want it to, the lads at the pit will own it."
The Pension Protection Fund, which now owns the colliery, has previously said it would consider all bids for the mine, and Mr Hartshorne said UK Coal are providing information to help progress the bid.
Mr Hartshorne said the estimated cost would be somewhere between £2,000 and £4,000 per worker, but admitted it may not appeal to each of the 700-plus workers.
He said: "Some might think it would never get off the ground, and we have a vast range of ages. Some would welcome an enhanced redundancy package, but some want to work there for another 30 years."
"We have to do it now or regret it for the rest of our lives."