Change still in the air at UK Coal

Jonson Cox, Chairman of Coalfield Resources
Jonson Cox, Chairman of Coalfield Resources

More mining jobs are under threat after UK Coal chairman Jonson Cox called for further reductions in manpower costs and changes to working practices to boost productivity at the Doncaster-based mining and property group.

Mr Cox was speaking following major restructuring which has resulted in significant changes in who owns the business, a management shake-up and a change of name to Coalfield Resources.

“This has been a restructuring of unprecedented scale and complexity for this size of company, dealing with a legacy structure that was inherited on the privatisation of British Coal in 1994,” said Mr Cox.

“Without it, it was almost certain that the coal mines would have been unable to trade beyond the first quarter of 2013.”

Restructuring had helped to safeguard 2,500 highly skilled and well-paid jobs, a skilled supply chain, and created a way of funding UK Coal’s £450 million pension deficit.

“The support provided has given a final chance to the mining business, mine management and the workforce, to adopt the changes needed to ensure safe, reliable and efficient production for the next five to 10 years,” said Mr Cox.

“While we have successfully reduced deep-mine manpower costs by 12.5 per cent, and started to change working practices, our inherited cost structure still remains too high and labour productivity too low.”

Following the restructuring, Coalfield Resources’ pension fund now has a 75.1 per cent stake in the group’s property business, Haworth Estates, whose land bank includes part of the Advanced Manufacturing Park at Catcliffe.

All surplus cash flow from the group’s mining business will also go towards reducing the pension fund deficit for the foreseeable future.