ALL employees at one of South Yorkshire’s last two pits have been put at risk of redundancy as its owners await the results of a geological survey into whether a new face is safe to be mined.
Hargeaves Services has issued a 90-day statutory notice covering the 540 staff at Maltby Colliery.
Management is awaiting the results of a detailed study of geological, financial and health and safety risks at the colliery, which was hit by water, oil and gas leaking into new workings earlier this year.
The group expects to get the results of the study later this month - and says starting redundancy consultations does not mean Maltby’s fate is sealed.
But Rotherham Council leader, Coun Roger Stone, and the National Union of Mineworkers, have greeted the news with dismay.
Coun Stone said: “If the pit closes, it will be very regrettable. The miners and their families will be devastated but the number of job losses will also affect our economy. If the mine closes, we will be looking to offer support to miners.”
Chris Kitchen, national secretary of the NUM, who attended a meeting at Maltby where union leaders were informed about the redundancy notice, said: “It’s devastating news - particularly when the energy regulator, Ofgem, has warned of possible power cuts in a few years’ time because of the run-down of the British coal industry and resulting supply problems.
“Maltby has been a profitable pit for the last three years and took on extra staff only a year ago. It seems that Hargreaves are issuing the redundancy notice now to save four weeks’ pay if the survey leads to closure.”
John Carrat, chairman of Maltby Town Council, said: “Last year, they made £34m worth of profit, so I think it’s time Hargreaves gave the workforce down at Maltby Colliery some support.”
In a statement, Hargreaves said: “Initiating this process is considered to be prudent business practice and does not indicate that a decision on the future of Maltby has been taken.”
The company said a production gap if it had to develop an alternative face would cost £16 million.
Maltby is one of just five UK deep mines still in operation, alongside Hatfield, near Doncaster, plus Thoresby, Daw Mill and Kellingley.