Loss of Neath Valley mining jobs at Aberpergwm could cost local economy millions according to MP Peter Hain
THE loss of almost 300 mining jobs in the Neath Valley could cost the local economy millions of pounds according to Neath MP Peter Hain.
American mining firm Walter Energy laid off 290 people from the Aberpergwm colliery just days before Christmas as it mothballed the mine.
Mr Hain said the majority of people who lost their jobs were being paid salaries of around £30,000.
The former Secretary of State for Wales said this meant almost £9 million could effectively be wiped out of the local economy.
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He said: "It is devastating for the individuals and their families at a time when it is really tough to find a job.
"Six or more people are chasing every job in the Neath constituency.
"What is also dreadful for the local economy is the average wages of those miners were up to £30,000 a year."
Mr Hain along with representatives from Aberpergwm and the nearby Unity mine spoke with the Secretary of State for Business, Vince Cable, in October last year to secure the future of the mines affected by the lack of confidence in the British economy and the current slump in the price of coal.
However the upshot of the meeting was no immediate help promised by Government.
Mr Hain added: "These were good jobs with good pay providing a decent standard of living for local people.
"It is not just the terrible impact on their families.
"It is the terrible impact for the area and the local businesses from pubs and restaurants and everything that people spend their money on.
"I feel very sorry for Rhidian Davies (managing director of the Aberpergwm colliery) who has put a large chunk of his life into this project."
Mr Davies has confirmed a total of 290 workers have now been laid off at Aberpergwm 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.
A spokeswoman for the Welsh Government said: "The Welsh Government has offered funding support to enable young apprentices at Aberpergwm to complete their training programme and gain vitally important qualifications.
"The Welsh Government is committed to helping young people gain the essential skills and training opportunities offered through apprenticeships."