Coal Pit Closures 'To Cost 2,000 Jobs'
Ministers have been accused of leaving Britain at the mercy of overseas energy suppliers by refusing to ensure UK Coal's long-term future.
A decision to support only the "managed closure" of the firm's remaining deep-pit mines at Kellingley in North Yorkshire and Thoresby in Nottinghamshire was slammed by the TUC.
The union organisation said while it recognised that £20m of support - shared between the Government and private sector - would save jobs in the short term, it claimed 2,000 roles would be lost by autumn 2015.
It was widely reported that the private sector investment will come from rival mining group Hargreaves Services and Harworth Estates, landlord of the two mines.
The Government insisted the money spared the company the prospect of immediate insolvency and 1,300 job losses.
UK Coal was placed in administration last year after struggling with rising costs, hefty pension liabilities and strong competition from cheaper imports.
A fire at its most profitable mine - Daw Mill - forced its closure.
Energy minister Michael Fallon argued on Thursday that a failure to support UK Coal would have cost the Treasury "significant losses and liabilities" from the redundancies and unpaid taxes.
But in a written statement he said: "The taxpayer is better served by supporting a managed closure of the mines.
"There is no value-for-money case for a level of investment that would keep the deep mines open beyond this managed wind-down period to autumn 2015.
"Private sector investors who wish to put in the substantial investment that would be needed to maintain the mines beyond autumn 2015 without Government support remain free to do so."
The Government also confirmed its loan was conditional on the negotiation of final terms, including assurances that all parties, including the trade unions, backed the plan to close the mines.
The four unions involved - the NUM, BACM-TEAM, NACODS and GMB - expressed disappointment and accused ministers of refusing to apply to Europe for permission to use state aid to keep the mines open until at least 2018.
UK Coal started redundancy consultations with 600 staff at Thoresby and the 700 employees at Kellingley last week.
A total of 340 jobs will be lost immediately, according to the TUC.
The decision to effectively close the two collieries leaves Britain with just one deep pit mine - employee-owned Hatfield colliery in South Yorkshire.
UK Coal's six operational, but smaller, surface mines in the North East, Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Shropshire, will be sold.
The company currently supplies 4% of the UK's electricity needs and officials dismissed the TUC's claims on foreign energy dependence suggesting that UK Coal's surface mines should enable production to continue at 40% of its current rate.