South West Wales

Aberpergwm Colliery: Walter Energy may cut 90 jobs

Aberpergwm colliery near Glynneath
Image caption Aberpergwm colliery near Glynneath employs about 350 people

Up to 90 jobs could go at a colliery in the Neath Valley, with the US owners blaming low global coal prices and threat from a wind farm application.

Walter Energy is concerned about the implications of the plan for a wind farm near its Aberpergwm Colliery, near Glynneath, which it says could "sterilise" land for mining.

Letters have been sent to staff at the colliery, which employs about 350, warning of a "threat of redundancies".

A formal consultation will start soon.

The statement said: "We are bitterly disappointed with the situation we find ourselves in, but unfortunately the coal industry globally has not been sheltered from the effects of the global economic difficulties.

'Jeopardise employment'

"Whilst Walter Energy remain committed to continuing the project at Aberpergwm Colliery, whereby we aim to make a sustainable profitable business creating employment for many years to come, unfortunately we aren't in a position to continue with the project at the pace that we are at present, and therefore must scale back until circumstances change."

The global company said it had to prioritise projects around the business due to low global coal prices, continuing the "most aggressive development in established markets and locations where governmental support for the development was the strongest".

The statement continued: "The company is also concerned with the implications of a local planning application for wind farms above the Aberpergwm Colliery.

"Should this application be accepted, then this may sterilise the land for mining purposes and as such further jeopardise the employment of those at Aberpergwm."

Bleddyn Hancock of the mining union NACODS said it was fully aware of the situation at Aberpergam, expected to be fully consulted during the process and had already had discussions with members at the site.

"It is very disappointing that there will be redundancies," said Mr Hancock. "Partly this is as a result of the decision to subsidise so called green energy sources so heavily.

"Given the current economic depression, the price of coal has gone down and the colliery is struggling financially.

"We hope as things pick up that men can be taken back on, but we do understand the economic pressures the owners are under.

"We hope to minimise job losses in discussions with the owners over the next few weeks."

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