Hundreds of mine workers lose their jobs in Neath Valley after mothballing of Aberpergwm colliery
ALMOST 300 mining jobs have been lost in the Neath Valley after the mothballing of a major colliery.
American mining giant Walter Energy announced in October last year it was consulting with workers at the Aberpergwm colliery over plans to suspend its activities at the mine.
Rhidian Davies, managing director at the mine, confirmed a total of 290 workers have now been laid off with around 20 management and security personnel being retained.
A weakening in the global price of coal is believed to be the main cause of the job cuts at Aberpergwm.
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Mr Davies confirmed talks have been ongoing with unions including the NUM and National Association of Colliery Overmen, Deputies and Shotfirers (NACODS) to reach the best possible settlement with the workers who have lost their jobs.
The colliery manager confirmed the majority of those who lost their jobs were in their 50s.
He said: "It is dreadful really and I feel for them and their families.
"I think there is a future in coal for the people who have lost their jobs but not all of them.
"Some people at the age of 63 might decide it is not for them any more.
"The sad thing is for the element that would definitely want to carry on.
"It has been a pleasure to work with them all."
Gwenda Thomas, Assembly Member for Neath, was closely involved in the negotiations between workers, unions and management at the Aberpergwm colliery and said: "The loss of highly skilled and well-paid jobs is a terrible blow for the miners in Aberpergwm colliery and the surrounding area of Glynneath. "The loss of these posts will have a tangible effect on the local economy.
"The future of the mining industry rests with the apprentices who were working at Aberpergwm, and I and my office have worked closely with the Welsh Government, Walter Energy and the National Union of Mineworkers to safeguard the future of these workers."
NUM South Wales general secretary Wayne Thomas confirmed the majority of the workforce at the Neath Valley mine lost their jobs on Friday December 21 last year and said: "Coming up to Christmas it was disastrous for everybody concerned.
"We tried to negotiate the best deal in the difficult situation we were faced with."
Walter Energy made a net loss of more than £600 million in the three months to the end of September.
The firm bought the Aberpergwm colliery from Western Coal in 2010.