FREAK geological conditions at a face within Maltby pit is set to cut profits for owners Hargreaves Services by up to £16million.
The company said work on preparing a new panel for use at Maltby Colliery later this year has been suspended due to the significant ingress of water, oil, gas and other hydrocarbons.
Miners had driven an underground roadway just over a mile into a new area of the pit so that work could start on extracting the next panel of coal.
The conditions, which are believed to have never happened before in Maltby’s 100-year history, will result in a gap between production panels of 12 to 16 weeks between completing coal extraction from the current face and production starting on the new face.
The delay will cost the company around £1 million a week in profits.
Gerry Huitson, production division director, said: “This is a very unusual situation and to our knowledge this has never happened before in Maltby’s long 100-year history.”
“No one on the mining team, including our independent expert geologist with 32 years experience at many different UK mines, has come across these conditions before.”
“We will revise the mining plans to avoid this locality and it is highly unlikely that these conditions will be found again in any subsequent panels.”
Gordon Banham, chief executive, added: “Whilst we are bitterly disappointed by this development, health and safety concerns far outweigh those of operational or financial performance.”
“I am confident that this was the right decision and also that there was nothing that could have been done by the mining team to foresee or avoid this situation.”
“With the support and help of the staff and unions, the face gap should not reflect on the longer term viability or profitability of the mine and we will work hard to mitigate the resulting impacts.”
“The group has depth, breadth and financial strength to work through this and we do not see this event having any material adverse impact on the medium and long term prospects for the group.”