The Rossington mine near Doncaster in South Yorkshire will close early next year following an unsuccessful trial of advancing longwall panels. The mine will be mothballed once the current panel is finished.
Earlier the company announced it would close the Harworth colliery following completion of the mine’s operational review, a move seen as disappointing given the positive steps already taken. New workforce practices, unique in British mining, were introduced, and performance on underground projects improved substantially.
But high methane levels and difficult geological conditions slowed mining, prompting UK Coal to reach the conclusion it was “unlikely further reserves could be economically extracted from this area of the mine”
Once the currently developed coal panel has been extracted early next year, the seam will be abandoned.
UK Coal has left the door open for future mining saying the immediate strategy would allow future access to substantial areas of reserves in an alternate coal seam. Investment in future development would depend on returns, government support and the future coal price.
Rossington employs over 300 people, while there are 400 at Harworth, a number of whom the company hopes to redeploy at other sites.
Deep mines produced four million tonnes in the six months to 30 June, compared to 6Mt in 2004. The closure of Ellington and Selby, an unplanned face gap at Daw Mill, and methane problems at Harworth were the main reasons behind the drop in tonnage.
Looking forward, UK Coal is expecting consistent deep mine production in the second half of the year. Fewer face gaps are expected and most mines have been equipped with new faces.
“Operational initiatives in respect of new workforce agreements, cost control practices and ground control techniques have proved beneficial,” the company said.
“In particular, during the early part of the year, the working practices in the deep mines were reviewed. New workforce agreements are now in place at four collieries. These agreements have resulted in increased guaranteed production time at the coalfaces, improved operational efficiency and fewer bonus disputes.”
Cost control in the deep mines has also improved and project costing has been introduced enabling tighter control and reduction of the cost base.
The company also confirmed takeover talks were back on with a venture capital consortium comprising Alchemy, Morston Assets and the Buccleuch Group.