The mine closed in 2004 but will receive investment worth some GBP100 million to return it to production, with the contract for new mining equipment a key facet of the deal.

There are currently six deep mines operating in the UK, but most of the coal used in the power generation sector is imported from Canada or Poland. The high price of gas has given the coal industry a timely boost, while generators such as E.ON and RWE are actively examining the possibility of building ‘clean coal’ plants in the UK.

Richard Budge, CEO of Powerfuel, the company operating the Hatfield pit, said of the equipment deal: This is the biggest single order for mining equipment for many years and underlines our confidence in coal and the role it will play in meeting Britain’s energy needs for decades to come.