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Book 7 The 21st Century


Chimneys
2015

  2015 Pages 

2015


Existing Deep Mines

Early June 2015...Hatfield Colliery In Trouble

A very large fall, as high as a house, stopped the only working face for about 2 weeks. All the fallen debris had to be cleared and then Carbofil foam pumped into the cavity. Another product called Puresin a type of glue was used also. The output had fallen for the mine to around 16,000 to 18,000 tonnes saleable per week, a far cry from the 40,000 tonnes plus required last year. Since the drivage to the bottom of the main conveyor drift for the delivery of coal from the retreat panel all development had ceased. The manpower of around 430 men would have to be reduced.

A further difficulty had arisen with the lack of further orders from Drax power station where all the output was delivered. Again this points to a possible earlier closure of the mine which was expected to remain open for at least another year and longer should extra funding be found from whatever source.

Since the Green Tax on fossil fuel had been announced earlier to come into force from April 2015 all power stations etc had stocked up on supplies and of course with summer coming the rate of burn would not be so great, so the stocks would last longer and new orders would not be necessary. The price of coal had reduced to £35 per tonne, and that proved impossible to be mined at that price in the UK, as each tonne would be mined at a great loss. I feel that extreme high wages in the past few years with some earning over £100,000 for the year and others earning vast bonuses for special jobs over a couple of days, and Under-officials being high earners also, only assisted in making UK coal more expensive, and as seen, has been priced out of the market. So much for short-sighted views, leading to the demise of the deep mining of the coal industry and loss of jobs.

Thoresby the last pit in Nottinghamshire closes on 15th July 2015 and that leaves Kellingley in Yorkshire living on a knife edge as to when that might close. Although scheduled to close some time towards the end of 2016 unless £x million can be found to invest in the pit I fear the worst and the prophesy I made all those years ago about the death of the industry will sadly ring true, albeit then I thought the industry would last until approximately 2025 to 2030 taking into account the age of the pits being about 90 to 100 years from sinking, as they were planned for at that time, for it was envisaged that more mines would be sunk further east. Of course this was not to be.

News break - 29 June 2015 - From BBC Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Hatfield Colliery could close within 48 hours if orders are not forth coming this week. A spokesman said that the Government had refused to give the private Trust Company the £12 million asked for to keep the Colliery open.

Some miners interviewed stated that they were expecting that the colliery could close at any time in the last 6 months due to all the problems they have had.

25 June 2015

A veteran Labour MP and former miner has made a plea for the government to use "state aid" to save the remaining deep mine pits in the UK from closure.

Dennis Skinner, MP for Bolsover, made the appeal in the House of Commons.

The three collieries are Hatfield in South Yorkshire, Kellingley in North Yorkshire and Thoresby in Nottinghamshire.

All are to shut by 2016 unless a rescue deal is agreed. Energy Secretary Amber Rudd gave no commitment.

Mr Skinner said: "The last government took £700m out of the miners' pension fund.

"Let's give some of it back, apply for state aid, save the three pits in question and save a lot of jobs."

Ed Miliband, former Labour leader and MP for Doncaster North, also asked for urgent action to keep Hatfield Colliery, in his constituency, open until summer 2016.

Ms Rudd said the government had agreed to provide Hatfield Colliery Partnership with £20m support until its planned closure in August 2016.

About 430 people work at the employee-owned colliery.

Kellingley and Thoresby, which employ about 1,300 people in total, are scheduled to close in 2015.

More Information on News Page


Hatfield Colliery in Yorkshire continued to struggle financially and at November 2014 was in need of a £4m injection of money to allow mining to continue beyond the present operations. HO6s was salvaged and the chocks were installed on HO9sA, a short-life retreat face. After retreating to the cross gate it is envisaged to continue beyond the gate by moving the chocks across and then re-establish the face line and continue outbye as HO9sB. A heating on HO6s that had been in the goaf for some time had hampered recovery of the Joy 2-leg chocks. Men working in the outbye return airway were only allowed to do so for 20 minutes at a time as the ratio of carbon monoxide to air was around 140 parts per million and any longer in such an atmosphere would have been too dangerous. HO7s retreat panel reached its planned limit by the end of the year and was sealed off successfully as was HO6s but there was no time to recover the chocks etc from HO7s due to the limited time factor allowing the new retreat face HO9sA to start in 2015. The workforce of around 650 was to be slimmed down.

Director for Hatfield Colliery Company, Brian Holland (1 class cert). Manager Kevin Mallender (2 class cert) ex-Maltby. Deputy Manager Gary Blake (1 class cert) exThoresby.

Reg Pettitt formally a Colliery Overman at Shirebrook to 1993, Clipstone to 2003 and Deputy at Harworth until closure in 2006 continues as one of 4 Shift Managers who rotate on variable shifts.

A representative from the Government department for the Environment made an underground visit to Hatfield on 9th April 2015 on a fact finding visit regarding the life of the colliery beyond 2015 but I understand he was not well received by some of the men.

Both Kellingley in Yorkshire and Thoresby in Nottinghamshire (UK Coal) have received 10m grants from the government to enable the 2 collieries to close down during 2015. However a further plea by UK Coal for an astronomical amount of £338m was asked for from the Government to carry on working. I will never understand why high wages beyond reason were paid when it was realised many years before that the industry was on a slippery slope due to the high price of production by UK Coal collieries compared with the price of imported coal that was purer than British coal that generally has a higher sulphur content as well as other impurities such as chlorine that needs more treatment for use at the power stations where most coal is delivered. Extra amounts of dirt either mid seam or cut out in the soft clunch floor has brought the vend of coal to dirt to 50% or lower, increasing the size of the dirt tips all controlled by strict planning rules as to area and height and restoration. It looked like it was coal at any price again, as it was for a period during NCB/British Coal tenure in the past. Of course the successful fracking for gas in the USA knocked the bottom out of the coal market as well as even further restrictions from the EU requiring lower emissions of the harmful gases by burning bituminous coal but the brown coal or lignite produced in the continental countries is exempt. Yet another anomaly, again with interference from the European Parliament.

David Cameron PM (Con/LibDem Coalition) on a visit to Eakring in early April 2015 on a campaign trail prior to the Election on 7/5/2015 stated that everything had been done to save Thoresby and Kellingley Collieriesfrom imminent closure but the astronomical price asked for was turned down by the Government. There had been hopes that with the funding the two pits owned by UK Coal could have remained open for a further 3 years. Help given by the Government included almost £30m to continue concessionary coal for working and retired miners, money to help write off particular debts, and money to help the company any way we can. We are limited by what you can do under the state aid rules and the £338m proposals I think it was just too much, £75,000 per job for the next couple of years. More than 200 of the workforce had already been laid off at Thoresby, with the remainder, between 300 and 400 set to go in the coming months. The demise of the industry blamed the continuously low coal price over recent years, thanks in part to the success of fracking in the US. Combined with the strong pound ( £) against the dollar ($), UK Coal says it made it impossible to remain. Mark Spencer MP (Con) for Sherwood still hoped that a private investor could be found, but added due to the coal price remaining low at about £35 to £40 per tonne, he felt that it was doubtful..... 'R sum from an article in the Chad Newspaper 15/4/2015' (The colliery would close on Friday 10th July 2015).

But as I stated several years ago I could see it coming, ..was it only me, or did people bury their heads in the sand 'like ostriches' ... hoping the threat would go away?

Again unfortunately two of the last remaining three mining villages will be devastated as others before them.

Harworth No1 Headgear, April 2015

Harworth Colliery (Nottinghamshire) in mothballs and on care and maintenance awaiting a buyer was extracting methane from underground via a pipe up the shaft and used to generate electricity and put the surplus after use for the mine fan and other operations into the National Grid since October 2006, was finally abandoned by UK Coal. The tip conveyor and equipment had been removed and some pit top buildings including the smaller No2 shaft concrete headgear demolished and both disused shafts although not filled were capped over in November 2014. Obviously any possible re-opening of the mine had been dismissed.

Harworth Half Wheel


Hatfield Colliery

Although it was planned to close HatfieldColliery in South Yorkshire later in the year, due to funds being needed to carry on mining, which unfortunately were not forthcoming, the shock decision to close the colliery on Tuesday 30th July 2015 was due to lack of orders, and stocks of coal on hand meant that production could not continue. The workforce of 300 plus were made redundant.

The last mine in Yorkshire is Kellingley Colliery sunk in the 1950s by the National Coal Board and that is forecast to close next year and that will bring to the end deep mining of coal in the UK.