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Employment in coal mining industry in the United Kingdom (UK) 1920-2019

Once a major powerhouse of the British economy, the coal industry was the lifeblood of several regions, providing employment for more than one million workers before the 1930s. Since that time, shifting attitudes towards coal and the emergence of alternative energy sources such as wind and solar have seen coal's role in the energy mix diminish. By 1990, the coal industry was still employer to some 50,000 people, however from 2016 onwards this figure had fallen to just one thousand.

Coal mines in the UK

As of 2019, there are thirteen UK coal mines left in operation. Of these, nine are opencast sites and four are deep mines. The British government has made it clear that phasing out coal is necessary for the country to reach its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. The industry is thus set to further contract in the future.

Coal job cuts globally

The shrinking number of coal employment has not been isolated to the UK, with similar reductions seen in the United States. In some U.S. states, such as Kentucky, coal mining jobs had fallen by over fifty percent in the past ten years. In Australia, where coal mining has traditionally been as strong contributor to the economy, this decreasing trend is also visible.

Number of people employed in the coal mining industry in the United Kingdom (UK) from 1920 to 2019*

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Release date

July 2020


United Kingdom

Survey time period

1920 to 2019

Supplementary notes

* Figures have been rounded.

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Statistics on "Coal industry in the UK"

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