700 jobs at risk at pit

Kellingley Colliery
Kellingley Colliery
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Hundreds of jobs are under threat at Kellingley Colliery as bosses fight to save the pit from closure.

Around 700 staff at the UK Coal-owned site are facing the axe after a fire ravaged the company’s Daw Mill pit in Warwickshire earlier this year.

Andrew Mackintosh, communications director for UK Coal, told the Express the company was in negotiations with the government to help save the Weeland Road pit, after being forced to close Daw Mill in March.

Mr Mackintosh said: “All our efforts are on Kellingley and saving those jobs. That’s why we are working flat out to make sure the business goes forward.

“If we can’t find a way forward then the whole business is at risk so these negotiations are crucial to the future of Kellingley and UK Coal.”

Up to 2,000 jobs at UK Coal are now at risk following the Daw Mill blaze, which cost the company £100m in equipment, £160m in coal and £35m in closure costs.

Of the 650 Daw Mill workers, only 120 have been transferred to work at the company’s remaining deep mines at Kellingley and Thorseby in Nottinghamshire.

Mr Mackintosh said: “We’re talking to the work force and appreciate their concerns because it’s a very worrying time for all of us.

“We’ve had people from Daw Mill working at Kellingley so everyone appreciates the horrendous impact of closing a mine.

“We’ve got some difficult decisions to make but if those help us save Kellingley it’s the right thing to do.”

The company is now talking to government ministers, the pensions regulator, and customers and suppliers to secure the future of its deep mines as well as six surface mines in the north east and the midlands.

UK Coal hopes to release a statement about the future of the pit, which produces 2.25m tonnes of coal a year, in the next few weeks.

Mr Mackintosh added: “I think it’s positive that we are still talking because there are so many avenues that could have closed in the first two or three weeks.”

Chris Kitchen, secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers, said the union was working with UK Coal to help safeguard jobs.

He said: “We’re trying to do everything we can to protect jobs at Kellingley and we are speaking to MPs to try and assist UK Coal in finalising a rescue package.

“Things are still happening, the mines are still open, but we haven’t got a solution yet.”

MP Yvette Cooper, whose Pontefract constituency borders the colliery, is calling on the government to step in.

She said: “Kellingley is really important for our local economy as well as for the energy industry.

“It’s a profitable pit so it should be kept separate from the problems at Daw Mill. It would be crazy for Kellingley to be undermined just because of an unexpected fire elsewhere.

“I’ve urged the government to work with the company so we can keep jobs safe at Kellingley.”