Bosses at Kellingley Colliery – threatened with closure earlier this year – have taken on the pit’s first new recruits in four years.
Nine new members of staff – aged between 21 and 31 – will have a one-month induction before moving on to specific roles at the colliery - the last remaining deep coal mine in Yorkshire.
Shaun McLoughlin, mine manager, said: “This is the first time in four years Kellingley Colliery has taken on new staff and I am thrilled to have the new recruits on board.
“Our average age on site is 50, so this group of youngsters will help us rejuvenate the workforce.”
Pit owners UK Coal went into administration last year, causing uncertainty over Kellingley’s future, but a rescue deal was eventually struck with a pension fund.
The Express launched a ‘Keep Big K open’ campaign – backed by the community and politicians – to help save the jobs of the 700 workers at the Weeland Road site .
Mr McLoughlin added: “It has been a tough year for UK Coal, but this investment proves that we are still growing and continuing to provide a vital service to our customers.”
Daniel Welka, 26, one of the new recruits, said: “Joining UK Coal is a fantastic opportunity for me and something I’ve dreamt about since I was young. I can’t wait to get started.”
Kellingley Colliery has been producing coal since 1965 and has potential to continue doing so until the 2030s with an estimated 60m tonnes of coal reserves at the site.
Derek Parkin, chief operating officer, said: “I am delighted welcome these nine apprentices to UK Coal.
“It is excellent that we have the opportunity to invest in new staff and I can’t wait to see them in action.”
Of the current 700 staff employed at Kellingley, 83 per cent work underground, ten per cent on the surface and seven per cent in clerical roles.
There are two shafts at the site - one which carries people and materials and another which is used to bring coal from to the surface.
The shafts are nine kilometres underground and are 730m deep.
The current journey time from the pit bottom to the coal face is an hour and 45 minutes.
In the mine there are around 20,000m of underground railway tracks and 12 locomotives.