THE West Midlands’ last colliery at Daw Mill aims to double production in just six weeks to reverse losses which could signal the end of the region’s coal industry.
Workers at Daw Mill, between Tamworth and Coventry, were told by UK Coal that the mine would close by 2014 if an emergency rescue plan failed.
But Union of Democratic Mineworkers area secretary Tom Gay said his members were convinced they could up production levels to give themselves hope of saving their jobs.
“We have two production panels going at the mine at the moment and both have run into problems with geology,” he said.
“Given time, we can overcome that. We are up to 22,000 tonnes a week and they want to get us up to 40,000 to 50,000 tonnes a week by the end of April.
“The men are all convinced they can achieve that.
“In previous times other mines within the group would have been able to carry those with bad geology a bit but now there is not sufficient scope for that to happen.
“It is a question of perseverance – you cannot go hell for leather.
“It’s all hands to the pump but you have to stick to the safety rules and make sure the threat of closure does not take the men’s focus off the job they are doing.
“Daw Mill is expensive to run when it is not producing and it becomes heavily loss-making.
“Initally, last week’s announcement was a shock but it was not that the men didn’t expect it – there had been a lot of speculation.
“But it is under threat. If production does not go up, they will close it.”
Daw Mill, the single largest coal-producing mine in the UK, is one of just five deep pits left in the whole of the country.
Just three years ago, the colliery was rated the most productive and technologically advanced mine in Europe but a four-month production gap in 2010 led to losses of £75 million for UK Coal.