Deep and surface mining coal production in the United Kingdom (UK) 1970-2019

The volume of coal produced has fallen considerably since 1970. In that year, 136.6 million metric tons was produced from deep mining alone, but by 2017 production volumes had fallen to just 20 metric tons. Surface mining overtook deep mining as the most productive mining type by 2005. In 2019, some 2.07 million tons of coal were retrieved through surface mining.

Death of an industry

As production has decreased, so have the number of mines. In 2000, deep mine numbers stood at 33, but in less than 20 years this number had fallen to just 3. This in turn has affected employment numbers. Historically the coal industry has been a major powerhouse of the UK’s economy, employing more than one million individuals in 1920. By 2018 the number of employees was just 1,000, showing a shift away from the fossil fuel.

Coal in the energy mix

The reliance on coal in the UK’s energy mix has plummeted. In 2019, only 6.9 terawatt hours of electricity were generated using coal-fired power stations, accounting for 2.1 percent of all electricity generated that year. In May 2019, Britain went one week without coal power, the first time this had happened since 1882.

Coal production from deep and surface mining in the United Kingdom (UK) from 1970 to 2019

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Release date

April 2020


United Kingdom

Survey time period

1970 to 2019

Supplementary notes


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Statistics on "Coal industry in the UK"

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