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Coal Mining

Volume 927: debated on Monday 7 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he will give a figure at March 1977 prices for the revised estimate of "Plan for Coal" which is stated in "Coal for the Future" to be £3,150 million; and whether he will break it down into major projects and other expenditure.

The National Coal Board is unable to provide a revised estimate until it has assessed the movement of relevant costs over the year to 31st March.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what are the anticipated capital costs, at March 1977 prices, of the NCB's "Plan 2,000", which are expressed in "Coal for the Future" as being £400 million at March 1976 prices; and what forward calculation he has made of the actual cost likely to be incurred at current, as opposed to constant, prices.

"Coal for the Future" gave no estimate of the total capital cost of "Plan 2000" which, in any case, covers a range of possible outputs. The figure of £400 million is an indication of the order of annual expenditure if capacity were to be devloped for the production of 170 million tons by the end of the century. Any revision of the figure to March 1977 prices must await an assessment of the movement of costs over the year to 31st March.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if experiments are proceeding with any system of remote control of coal-cutting machinery suitable for mining coal under the sea.

The NCB mining research and development programme contains a major effort on increasing the degree of automatic and remote control in mining operations. The success which attends the application of this work to conventional mining will point the way to the type of system required for exploiting undersea coal resources far from land.