THOUSANDS more men could lose their jobs in Yorkshire unless action is taken to tackle further closures in the county's coal mines.
The stark figures are in a research report, Coal: The Future, which also says £165m could be lost to the county's economy.
It was commissioned by the Yorkshire and Humber Assembly and published this week.
The report, which the assembly and the Yorkshire Forward regeneration agency hope will help develop Government energy policy and secure cash for the region's coal industry, shows how mining remains important, both for the regional economy and the nation's energy needs.
The report examines the current state and prospects of both the coal industry and coal-fired power stations, such as Ferrybridge and Eggborough.
Among issues highlighted are:
* The Yorkshire and Humber region produces 16.3% of the nation's electricity, but has only 8.3% of the nation's workforce
* High imports of low-sulphur coal and the switch towards gas means the contribution of coal to power generation is predicted to fall from 71% in 1980 to 21% by 2008
* Production of coal in the UK has dropped from 53m tonnes in 1995 to an estimated 25.5m tonnes in this year
* The Yorkshire and Humber coal industry workforce of 3,340 in December 2003 will be down to 1,530 by the end of this year
* Some 660 companies based in the region are direct suppliers to the Selby complex in North Yorkshire, where closures began last year.
The report also examines a number of key challenges facing what is left of the industry.
These include more cost-effective use of technology, competition from other energy sources, such as gas, types and quantity of waste produced and the implications of new or forthcoming legislation.
The Yorkshire and Humber Regional Energy Forum's chairman, Lord Woolmer, said the report gave a vital overview of the coal industry.
"The region has had a long and proud history of producing coal on behalf of the nation. But the stark facts are that today the industry faces an uncertain future," he added.
"In addition to the closures of the last 20 years, new legislation and the challenge of reducing greenhouse emissions potentially further threaten the industry's profitability.
"But investment and the use of new technology could provide a more secure future, both in terms of the mining industry and of being able to generate clean energy from coal."