Constructive talks on Aberpergwm mine - but no Government help
URGENT talks over the future of mining in the Neath Valley have been held with Business Secretary Vince Cable.
Last month American mining giant Walter Energy announced it was in consultation to suspend activities at its Aberpergwm colliery due to a "challenging economic environment" which it claimed continued to heavily impact the global coal industry.
Around 270 mineworkers would be affected if the mine were mothballed.
Mr Cable recently met with bosses from both the Aberpergwm mine and a neighbouring mine run by Unity, as well as Neath MP Peter Hain, who said the meeting was productive but confirmed there would be no immediate Government help.
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Mr Hain said: "The meeting with the Business Secretary on the future of two of the biggest employers in the area was constructive. While no immediate Government help was promised, the Business Secretary made a number of suggestions on options to explore in the future.
"Both Aberpergwm and Unity are vital employers in the area, producing the highest quality anthracite in the world and providing well paid skilled jobs. "The lack of confidence in the British economy and slump in the price of coal will not only affect the nearly 500 people currently employed by the two mines but many hundreds of extra job opportunities including the apprenticeships that both mines offer.
"This would have devastating knock on effects on the local community which is why the meeting with the Business Secretary was so crucial."
Mr Hain has pledged to continue to work with Walter and Unity to secure the future of the two operations.
Neath AM Gwenda Thomas has also been involved in talks over the future of the Aberpergwm Colliery and said: "I am very glad that all options of support are being explored.
"Any loss of jobs in this area has very serious consequences for the surrounding communities. On the Welsh Government side, Business Minister Edwina Hart has given assurances that her officials will continue working closely with Aberpergwm Colliery to provide every possible support."
The Welsh Government has said it is working to ensure those affected by redundancy will be offered support via the React programme.