Scotland business

Scottish Coal: Government sets up mining jobs taskforce

Image caption Production has been stopped at Scottish Coal's six open cast mines

A Scottish government taskforce has been set up to try to retain jobs at a collapsed coal-mining firm.

Scottish Coal, which operated six open cast mines across Scotland, announced nearly 600 redundancies when it went into liquidation last week.

Energy minister Fergus Ewing said the Scottish Open Cast Mining Taskforce would do everything it could to save and create jobs in the sector.

The collapse was blamed on falling coal prices and rising operational costs.

Mr Ewing said he had spoken with the liquidators, KPMG, and was positive that it was still possible that mining operations would continue.

The taskforce will be a cross-party initiative and will work closely with communities, councils, land owners, and coal operators, he said.

"In addition I am meeting with unions tomorrow to ascertain what further assistance can be provided," Mr Swinney added.

"I can confirm that plans are underway for four events to assist those employees who have been made redundant."

The government is also setting up a Scottish Mines Restoration Trust to help facilitate the restoration of old open cast coal mines across Scotland.

It hopes that over time the initiative will create hundreds of jobs across the country.

Scottish Coal, which is part of the Scottish Resources Group, operated open cast mines in East Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire and Fife.

KPMG said that despite significant efforts in recent months, the business had been unable to secure the level of investment required to enable it to continue.

It announced a total of 590 redundancies.

The largest job losses are at the Broken Cross site at Douglas Water in South Lanarkshire, where a total of 191 posts will go.

At the Dalfad mine in Muirkirk, East Ayrshire, 101 jobs have been cut and 89 staff will go at Dunstonhill at Patna in East Ayrshire.

The Scottish coal industry supports 4,500 direct and indirect jobs and is worth £500m a year.

Scottish Coal was the biggest surface mining supplier in Britain, and biggest coal firm in Scotland.

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