250 Neath Valley mining jobs under threat
A NEATH Valley mine could be mothballed within three months, with the loss of more than 250 jobs.
Letters have been sent to workers at the Aberpergwm Colliery, near Glynneath, informing them of the potential job losses.
Suspension would affect a total of 270 employees with 251 losing their jobs and 19 being kept on to run the mine on a care and maintenance basis.
The mine's parent company Walter Energy has entered into a 90-day consultation period with staff.
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Most of the staff will remain at home on full pay during the consultation, with up to 100 employees kept on to continue development works within the mine's upper drift.
A spokesman for Walter Energy said: "Walter Energy announced today it is commencing consultation regarding a proposal to suspend activities at its Aberpergwm Colliery, which will affect approximately 270 employees.
"This proposal is as a result of a challenging economic environment which continues to heavily impact the global coal industry.
"During this period of consultation, most of the employees will remain at home on full pay.
"However, up to 100 employees may be required to continue working at the mine during this consultation period to continue development works within the upper drift.
"If Walter Energy proceeds with the proposals outlined today, early indications are that only a small number of employees would be retained to keep the mine in a safe condition until operations resume.
"Formal consultation will take place shortly with employee and trade union representatives, and as such it is inappropriate for the company to make any further comment at this time."
Neath MP Peter Hain said: "This is desperately disappointing.
"I have given the mine every support I can but it appears to be a victim of international factors, including the global recession, which is severely affecting the price of coal and the damaging policies by the Westminster Government which are hitting businesses hard."
National Union of Mine Workers (NUM) representative Wayne Thomas said: "We can clarify the procedures they need, we can give support at a very traumatic time and guidance as to what options, albeit limited, are available to them."
Glynneath mayor Eddie Jones said: "These are jobs that we desperately need because there is very little else in this area."
Neath AM Gwenda Thomas said: "Losing these well-paid jobs will be a real blow for the local economy.
"I and my office will do all that we can to mitigate the effects of these job losses, and will closely liaise with the Welsh Government, Walter Energy and the workforce through the NUM to help these miners."