Britain Closes Last Underground Coal Mine

 

Great Britain has closed its last deep coal mine. The Kellingley mine in North Yorkshire  produced millions of tonnes of coal since its opening in 1965. It was the last underground coal mine in operation in the UK.  The closing of the coal mine marks the end of long era of mining history in Great Britain.

The Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries was fuelled by coal. It turned  Britain into the world's economic superpower and paved the way for colonies all over the world.

At the height of mining there were over 2,000 coal mines in the UK. 1.2 million workers were employed in mining, one of the most powerful industries in the country. Coal mines produced the raw material for over 90% of the country's energy.

However, mining has been decreasing in the last decades as fossil fuel is being replaced by cleaner energyIn addition , the underground mining of coal is not profitable any more . Today , Britain imports cheap coal from Russia and Columbia. This has led to widespread unemployment in Britain's so-called Black Country , the Midlands, where mining was traditionally at home.

In the 1980s British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher broke the power of the coal mining industry and the trade unions. After announcing the closure of  20 coal mines, workers around the nation went on a year-long strike.

Shutting down the coal mining industry is another step towards reducing global warming.The British government plans to shut down all coal-powered power stations by 2025. Currently, they produce about 25% of the UK's energy.

 

Even though all underground coal mines have been closed, surface mining will continue in Great Britain.

 

Coal mine at Kellingley

Last British coal mine at Kellingley - Image:Paul Glazzard

 

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Words

  • announce = to say officially
  • century = a hundred years
  • closure = the closing of ..
  • continue = go on
  • currently = at the moment
  • decade = ten years
  • decrease = go down
  • deep coal mine = mine in which workers must go down hundreds of feet below the surface to dig up coal
  • economic = about buying and selling products
  • employ = to give someone a job
  • even though = although
  • fossil fuel = energy from dead plants and animals; it has taken millions of years to be produced (for example coal, oil and gas)
  • fuel = to make something become stronger
  • global warming = the increase in the world's temperatures as a result of more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • height = here: the most successful years
  • however = but
  • in addition = also
  • Industrial Revolution = period in the 18th and 19th centuries when machines were created and people worked in factories to produce goods
  • in operation = working, in use
  • mark = show an important event
  • mine = deep hole in the ground  that people dig so that they can remove coal, gold, silver and other minerals
  • pave the way = to prepare something for a later event
  • power station = building where electricity is produced
  • profitable = to earn money
  • raw material = things that exist in nature, like coal, oil or wood and  that we need to produce other things
  • reduce = lower
  • replace = to put in something's place; use instead of something else
  • widespread = in many places
  • shut down = close
  • strike = a period of time when workers do not go to work because they want more money or better working conditions
  • surface mining = to dig up coal that is on the top of the earth
  • trade union = organization that represents workers and fights for their rights
  • unemployment = a situation in which people are out of work