Richard John Budge (BGS 1958-65)
19 April 1947 – 18 July 2016
Richard Budge died on Monday 18 July 2016, at the age of 69 after suffering from prostate cancer for nine years. He was nicknamed “King Coal” after successfully spear-heading the purchase of State-owned British Coal’s mining assets when the industry was privatised over 20 years ago, .
Richard, a generous supporter of the Old Bostonian Association, attended Boston Grammar school and went on to Manchester University to study Fine Arts. He left to join the Retford-based company AF Budge owned by his late brother Tony, which was involved in civil engineering projects, constructing major motorway interchanges and extracting coal from seams lying close to the surface.
Almost half a century later when privatisation of the coal mining industry was completed, Richard’s Doncaster-based RJB Mining company bought 17 of the 19 remaining deep mines.
The three English coalfield packages embracing 17 deep mines, 30 surface mines, over 400 million tonnes of reserves and nearly 50,000 acres of land, cost RJB Mining, of which Budge was Chief Executive, £815 million. £700 million was paid to the government on completion on December 30, 1994, and the remaining bank acquisition debt was paid off within two years.
In 1992, he bought the Opencast Coal and Plant Division from the family business. He bought a small deep mine in Northumberland, contracted for surface mine sites, and rescued three deep mines which British Coal had decided would play no part in the privatisation process. These “lease and licence” mines went on to produce almost 20 million tonnes of coal for power stations and industry before they closed.
RJB Mining was transformed from a relatively small company to the biggest independently owned coal production business in Europe.
Armed with contracts to supply power stations in the Midlands, Yorkshire and the North East at guaranteed prices for three years, Mr Budge launched a campaign, convincing employees that he was in it for the long-term. There was investment in both deep and surface mines, new machinery accessing millions of tonnes of reserves and a determination to maintain and improve health and safety standards.
Following a slump in energy prices in the late 90s as coal supply contracts were being renegotiated , Richard quit as the company’s Chief Executive in the summer of 2001.
He invested his energies and much of his personal wealth in securing a future for Hatfield, a colliery near Doncaster with substantial reserves and the potential to pioneer carbon capture technology seen as an environmental life-line for coal. He secured foreign investment, but little was forthcoming from the EU or the UK government which by then was promoting “renewable” energies as the way forward.
|(Photo Brighouse Echo)|
Richard served in both regional and national capacities as Chairman and President of the Coal Trade Benevolent Association He provided support and was Chairman of the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation and many organisations and activities popular in traditional mining communities. He was a trustee of the National Coal Mining Museum for England, the former Caphouse colliery at Wakefield, and for many years, was with Nottinghamshire Enterprises, a job creation agency helping regenerate one of the coalfields hit hard by pit closures.
He was the driving force behind the foundation of the Confederation of UK Coal Producers, a campaign group which for the first time gave independent producers a voice in the corridors of power. It had many successes but failed to secure government and EU investment in clean coal carbon capture and storage technology. The decision marked the end of the British coal industry, and the country’s last deep mine, once owned and developed by Richard’s RJB Mining, ceased production at the end of 2015. Richard had been declared bankrupt in 2013.
As a young man Richard’s passion for motor racing was put into practice behind the wheel of several high-powered Chevron historic sports cars, winning races and championships and being crowned Thundersports Gold Cup winner at Oulton Park in 1983.
Richard, who treasured his privacy, leave his wife, Ros, their sons Grant and Kurt and their five grandchildren.