Daw Mill colliery work 'will prevent fires'

Daw Mill colliery The Coal Authority said there was no danger to local people or homes

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The latest fire at the Daw Mill colliery in Warwickshire will be the last at the site, according to The Coal Authority.

Experts are currently working to backfill the shafts and cut off the oxygen supply to prevent further fires breaking out.

According to former miner and industry expert Dr Eric Wade, the fires at the Daw Mill site are due to the type of coal.

"Certain coals, including unfortunately Warwickshire thick coal, is liable to spontaneous combustion and that's been known since the 17th Century," he said.

History of Daw Mill colliery

  • Last remaining deep mine on the Warwickshire coalfields
  • UK's biggest deep coal mine, according to UK Coal
  • Sunk in 1957, at a depth of 1,831 ft (558m)
  • Second shaft dug at 1,824 ft (556m) between 1967 and 1971
  • Three deaths at the site between 2006 and 2007
  • UK Coal was ordered to pay £1.2m in 2011 over health and safety breaches
  • In December 2012 the mine is earmarked for closure in 2014
  • A fire breaks out 540m (1,770 ft) underground on 22 February 2013
  • It is finally extinguished in May
  • Daw Mill's closure leaves just three deep mines in the UK

Dr Wade, from Durham University said: "In part of Germany, for example, which has coal very similar to Warwickshire coal, there's been a fire underground for 300 years."

The Coal Authority, part of the Department for Energy and Climate Change, said the size of the seam was also a factor, with Daw Mill working the thickest coal seam in the country.

With 56 million tonnes of coal estimated to remain at Daw Mill, Dr Wade said the only way to tackle the current blaze was to starve it of air.

The Coal Authority said the latest work was due to be completed within two weeks and would see the two main shafts filled with limestone, followed by a clay plug.

Daw Mill is then expected to be capped with concrete by the end of the year - a move Dr Wade said would "stop it [fires] once and for all".

It also marks the final chapter for the mine which holds the UK record as producing the most coal in a year - some three million tonnes in 2008, a third of UK Coal's output.

Nuneaton MP Marcus Jones said he had held emergency meetings with The Coal Authority regarding the latest fire.

He said he had been assured it did not pose a danger to local people or property, partly due to the depth of the mine - some 700m (2,300ft).

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