ONE of the few remaining deep coal mines in the UK is facing a lengthy production gap as a result of unprecedented geological conditions.
Hargreaves Services said work on preparing a new panel for use at Maltby Colliery in Rotherham later this year has been suspended due to the significant ingress of water, oil, gas and other hydrocarbons.
The conditions, which are believed to have never happened before in Maltby’s 100-year history, will result in a gap between production panels of 12 to 16 weeks and knock £16 million from Hargreaves profits for next year.
Its shares fell by a third today, although the company insisted the situation would not have an impact on the long term viability of the mine.
Hargreaves production division director Gerry Huitson said: “No one on the mining team, including our independent expert geologist with 32 years experience at many different UK mines, has come across these conditions before.
“We will revise the mining plans to avoid this locality and it is highly unlikely that these conditions will be found again in any subsequent panels.”
Maltby produces more than one million tonnes of coal per year, with around 500 people employed there. About 60% of Maltby’s total output is supplied under a long-term secure contract with Drax, Europe’s largest coal-fired power plant.
Hargreaves is also the largest importer of coal into the UK through terminals at Immingham and Newport and owns Monckton coke works in south Yorkshire.