Sheffield & South Yorkshire

'King Coal' Richard Budge, of RJB Mining, dies aged 69

Richard Budge Image copyright RJB MINING
Image caption Richard Budge was known as "King Coal" after buying 17 of the UK's remaining 19 deep mines in 1994

A businessman who was dubbed "King Coal" after buying most of the UK's coal mines when the industry was privatised has died.

Richard Budge ran Doncaster-based RJB Mining company and took control of 17 deep mines in 1994 at a cost of £815m. Only two other UK deep mines were in production at the time.

The 69-year-old had battled prostate cancer for nine years.

Budge, from Retford, Nottinghamshire, was married and had two children.

Born in Boston, Lincolnshire, he joined the family engineering business after university before buying a small deep mine in Northumberland.

He took on three deep mines which were not included in British Coal's privatisation process and RJB Mining eventually became one of the biggest independent coal producers in Europe.

Budge quit in 2001 and bought the struggling Hatfield pit near Doncaster, spending £110m to bring the pit back to life.

Speaking in 2007, he said: "Most people think it is unbelievable that you can reopen an old colliery, but we have done that."

In 2013, the Yorkshire Post reported the mining mogul had been declared bankrupt.

He was a trustee of the National Coal Mining Museum and helped found campaign group the Confederation of UK Coal Producers.

More on this story