Daw Mill: Hundreds of jobs go at fire-hit mine
Hundreds of jobs will go at a Warwickshire coal mine hit by an underground fire last month, owner UK Coal has announced.
After the blaze at Daw Mill Colliery on 22 February, UK Coal warned that mining might not be able to resume.
The company now says a small team will remain on site to secure the mine over the coming months, but the majority of its 650 staff will be made redundant.
Kevin McCullough, chief executive of UK Coal, said it was a "terrible week".
Daw Mill is the last remaining deep mine on the Warwickshire coalfields, and one of the last in the UK.
UK Coal said last month's fire had been the largest at a UK coal mine in more than 30 years and was continuing to burn "ferociously".
Over the past year, the company has announced restructuring programmes at the mine and in August it said it was "unlikely" the mine would remain open after 2014.
At the time, UK Coal said it had made overall losses of £20.6m in the six months to 30 June, with Daw Mill contributing to a 20% fall in production.
About 56 million tonnes of coal is estimated to remain at the site.
Mr McCullough said: "This has been a terrible week, not just for the company and its employees but also for the energy security of the country, as it brings an end to 47 years of coal production at Daw Mill.
"Having successfully completed the restructuring, and being only weeks away from returning to healthy production, this ferocious fire has dealt a blow to everything we tried to achieve over the last 12 months - in just 10 days."
He said deep mines at Kellingley, in North Yorkshire, and Thoresby, in Nottinghamshire, along with surface mines, would continue to produce coal for use in power stations across the UK.
Mr McCullough said they were looking at whether they could transfer some miners from Daw Mill to those other collieries.
He said the company was also working with the government to help manage the closure of the mine.
Ray Sweet, deputy leader of North Warwickshire Borough Council, said the loss of the mine would be "almost a disaster" for the area.
He added that councillors would be holding an emergency meeting later to discuss how to help the affected workers and their families.
He said: "I can understand UK Coal's situation. The fire in the mine is at dangerous levels and it could blow at any time and that's what they are worried about.
"The one plus from this is that there were no men trapped in the mine by the fire, and you don't want to put anyone else at risk."
'Known nothing else'
Nuneaton MP Marcus Jones called for the colliery to be mothballed rather than completely closed.
The Conservative MP said: "There is still a vast amount of coal down there and there is always the possibility that it could be mined again in the future."
Chris Kitchen, of the National Union of Mineworkers, said the news was "devastating" for the men who relied on the colliery and their families.
He said: "We tend to find many of our members who work in the mining industry have known nothing else."
He said union officials were now determined to get the workers the redundancy settlements "they deserve".
Andrew Mackintosh from UK Coal said that it is the company's "aim" to give the workers their full redundancy pay and that discussions are under way.
He said: "We've got redeployment under way we've moved probably about 50-100 people, but unfortunately for the vast majority, we just won't be able to deploy everybody."