MALTBY Colliery could be closed or mothballed because of major geological problems, it has been revealed this week.
The presence of gas, water and oil in the development of a new face has fuelled uncertainty over the site, which employs about 500 people.
Its owner, Hargreaves Services, said the outcome of further investigations at the panel, known as T125, by its mining experts and external consultants should be completed by the end of next month.
Chief executive Gordon Banham said: “Along with the board, I am unequivocal in my view that, should the presence of gas, water and oil in the vicinity of the panel put our employees at risk, in the opinion of our own management or the external consultants, we will not attempt to mine the T125 panel.”
“We anticipate that the abandonment of the T125 panel would lead to the mothballing or even closure of the mine as it would probably be uneconomic to switch production to a later panel due to the long face gap entailed.”
“We believe that prevarication on these types of issues, especially in the context of deep mines, can bring unacceptable levels of risk to employees, avoidable financial losses and destruction of shareholder value, none of which we will countenance.”
“While any decision to close or mothball the mine can only be taken after the outcome of the comprehensive review is known, given the current risk profile, the board wants to ensure that all stakeholders, internal and external, are kept fully informed and where necessary consulted with over the coming weeks.”
“I personally hope that the review will provide unequivocal evidence that will leave the group in a position to carry on with development and production of the T125 panel. We were and we remain very optimistic about the potential yield from the T125 panel given the thickness of the coal seam. Should the level of risk ultimately prove to be unacceptable, the closure or mothballing of Maltby would obviously be a disappointing development for the management and employees.”
Mr Banham said the safety of its employees was its primary concern.
He added: “Based on the initial work we have done to date we are very confident that the cash that would be raised from selling the plant and machinery would be comfortably higher than the cash costs of redundancy. Setting financial matters aside, we can assure shareholders that the safety of our workforce is our primary consideration and, no matter which path is followed, that safety will not be compromised.”