THE Midlands’ last remaining pit faces a production crisis following “unacceptable delays” underground and severe losses of £124.6 million at owner UK Coal, it was revealed today.
Daw Mill Colliery, near Tamworth, the sole surviving deep mine in the region, has warned of a costly “face gap” which could leave it without production for many weeks.
The pit, which employs an 800-strong workforce from throughout the region, including Tamworth, Nuneaton, Birmingham, Solihull and as far afield as Nottingham, suffered a four-month production gap last summer which racked up major losses for UK Coal.
Daw Mill is one of just three fully operational colleries run by UK Coal and the only surviving pit from a region which for decades boasted dozens of deep mines in Staffordshire and Warwickshire, employing thousands of miners.
But UK Coal yesterday announced losses for 2010 of £124.6 million amid a grim warning from new chairman Jonson Cox of an “unacceptable performance’’.
Mr Cox said in a statement: “Each of our three ongoing deep mines has under-performed its investment programme in developing new coal faces at some point in the last three years. The most notable was Daw Mill where, in early 2010, a four-month face gap caused the group to burn through the majority of the cash it had raised from its 2009 equity issue.
“Whether caused by geological conditions or poor management and planning, if the next panel of coal is not ready before the previous face is exhausted, the result is a ‘face gap’ or a gap in production and pressure on the development of the subsequent face.
“It was confirmed in January that slow progress in 2011 was likely to cause a face gap again this year at Daw Mill.”
Mr Cox said the new manager had acted quickly “in developing and initiating a delivery plan”.
In a statement on UK Coal’s overall performance, Mr Cox said it was clear that the group was in a poor position and added: “The Board fully appreciates that investors deserve a far better return than they have experienced over recent years.”