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When Britain's last operating deep coal mine shut in December 2015, it consigned to history a once mighty industry that had employed more than one million people at its height in the 1920s.
But as gas and nuclear power became increasingly prevalent from the middle of the last century, the decline of the British coal mining industry was regarded as inevitable. The number of firms in the sector has declined by 10% since 2010.
In light of the above, and the general lack of confidence that currently surrounds some parts of the sector, it's perhaps unsurprising that mining is witnessing an ongoing decrease in the number of operating businesses – something which has been ongoing since the 1970s.
In 2010 there were 2,265 companies in the sector. By 2017 that had fallen to 2035.
Nonetheless, ambitious UK mining companies - and particularly those with an overseas presence – are still achieving growth thanks to emerging opportunities in the sector.
For example, in 2015, automotive and energy storage company Tesla signed early stage agreements with mining companies to supply its new ‘gigafactory’ in Nevada with lithium, a key ingredient in batteries.
The deal clearly signalled to the world’s lithium miners that new customers are not frightened to explore high-risk, high-return alternatives when they find that current market conditions do not suit their needs.
The emerging market for lithium could make long-closed Cornish tin mines economically viable again. High lithium levels have been identified in Cornish mines, but there has been no market for the mineral until recently.
For further information on the sourced references for the Business Trends data, outside of the Business Population Estimates 2016 and Nomis official labour market statistics 2010 and 2017, please download the information here (PDF, 240MB)