Around 1,300 jobs are at risk after UK Coal said it planned to close two of the last three deep mines in Britain.
The company, the largest coal producer in the UK, is consulting on plans to shut Kellingley in Yorkshire, and Thoresby in Nottinghamshire, affecting a total of 1,300 workers.
If they go it would leave employee-owned Hatfield in Doncaster as the sole remaining deep mine in Britain.
UK Coal, which was rescued from administration last year, is understood to be looking to raise around £10m in investment “within weeks” to save itself from insolvency.
If that fails, it has said it will turn to the government for help
Andrew Mackintosh, a UK Coal spokesman, said it needed the cash injection to prevent the mines being closed straight away.
“We are not looking at a long-term future here, but in order to close the mines slowly we need to have money,” he said.
“If we secure funding Thoresby and Kellingley would have at least 18 months, rather than an immediate closure if we don’t get the funding.
UK Coal, which provides eight per cent of the total coal consumed in the UK, said it had been hit by cheaper imported coal, especially from the US, where the boom in shale gas has forced American coal miners to find new markets in Europe.
The company has a total of eight pits, collapse would cost 2,000 jobs.
A Government spokesman said the issue was “primarily a commercial matter”, but that it was “in close contact” with the company.
* UK Coal is owned by an employee trust and pension funds after a 2012 restructuring masterminded by lawyers at Nabarro in Sheffield.