The Journal reports that a government inspector is considering evidence before recommending what can be included in the Mineral Local Plan.
Durham wants the plan to ban all new opencast mines until 2006, except in exceptional circumstances.
However, Philip Baker, a planning and quality manager for HJ Banks and Co Ltd, said: 'The county council states that exceptional circumstances exist which justify its restrictive approach to opencast mining.
He added: 'The restrictions proposed by the county council are unique to County Durham. If such a policy were adopted nationally it would result in the end of the opencast industry.'