Workers at Kellingley Colliery have vowed to fight for the pit’s long-term future after its operators agreed a £4m deal to close the site.
UK Coal confirmed on Friday it has secured the deal to carry out a ‘managed closure’ of the pit and another site in Thorseby, Nottinghamshire.
The £20m deal, which also includes money from private investors, will see gradual job losses between now and the end of 2015.
But members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper have called on the government to urgently explore state aid that would keep the pit open until 2018.
Keith Hartshorne, NUM delegate at Kellingley, said: “The deal to save the pit is a lot more expensive than it was because we’ve had no development since March.
“But where there is a will, there’s a way. The lads down the pit are really demoralised because we’ve tried every possible option but it’s still worth keeping up the pressure. We’re not giving up on the pit just yet but it’s not fair if people are being strung along.”
Ms Cooper said time was running out to secure a longer term deal and action must be taken as soon as possible.
She added: “The government and UK Coal always alluded to the fact that they needed to sort out the short term plan first.
“That’s been done now but the problem is it’s taken so long.
“Time is running out. This is the last chance for the government and UK Coal to set out a long term plan for Kellingley.”
Bob Lawrence, who has worked at the site for 38 years, said he would be devastated if the pit closed next year.
Mr Lawrence, 54, said: “I’ve worked at the pit since I was 16 and it’s all I’ve ever known.
“ I’ve no idea what I’d do if it closed but the state aid deal would allow us more time to retrain people and would allow us to get a better redundancy deal.”
If a state aid or longer term deal cannot be agreed the next batch of redundancies for about 200 workers will be issued in April.