Kellingley, the largest deep pit in Europe and the last deep mine in Britain, had employed about 1,600 in recent years, and at one time had a payroll exceeding 2,000. It first came online in 1965 and produced 900 metric tons (mt) per hour at prime levels.

The final 450 miners will receive a severance package equal to 12 weeks of average pay.

“[These] miners, the last in a long line stretching back for generations, are having to search for new jobs before the shafts that lead down to 30 million tons of untouched coal are sealed with concrete,” said Phil Whitehurst, GMB union national officer.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) told Britain’s Sky News that the colliery could have stayed open if the government had stepped in to help.

Kellingley’s owner, UK Coal, previously cited “extremely difficult trading conditions” for its decision to close the mine.