§ Mr. Dobson
To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what is his Department's current estimate of the total coal reserves in Britain.
§ Mr. Wakeham
The British Coal Corporation is responsible for estimating coal reserves. Its estimate of coal in place in the United Kingdom (that is, in seams over 60 cm thick and less than 1,200 m deep, minus coal which has already been worked) is 190 billion tonnes. Strictly recoverable reserves (that is, coal in known coalfields which could be extracted with existing technology) are estimated by the corporation at 45 billion tonnes. The amount of these reserves that would actually be workable would of course depend on economic circumstances at the time. Recoverable reserves from existing mines and certain new mine projects, including the extractable and saleable coal which is sufficiently proved, of adequate thickness and quality, and in a suitable mining environment, are currently assessed at between 3 billion and 5 billion tonnes.