The future of Maltby Colliery and the jobs of 540 miners are in the balance after owner Hargreaves Services warned all employees of possible reduncies at the pit.
Hargreaves has launched a 90-day consultation process as it waits for the results of a detailed study of geological, financial and health and safety risks at the Rotherham colliery, which was hit by water, oil and gas leaking into new workings earlier this year.
The group expects to get the results of the study later this month and says starting redundancy consultations does not mean Maltby’s fate is sealed.
Hargreaves said: “Initiating this process is considered to be prudent business practice and does not indicate a decision on the future of Maltby has been taken.”
Leaks were originally discovered in May after miners had driven an underground roadway just more than a mile into a new area of the pit, so work could start on extracting the next panel of coal, codenamed T125.
Hargreaves stopped further development and tried to establish a coal face further back down the roadway it had driven, while continuing to extract coal from existing workings.
When the company issued its preliminary results last month, it said gas leaking into the pit was still a problem and could be coming from the area that caused the difficulties in May.
Hargreaves said at the time it would not attempt to mine the T125 panel if the presence gas, water and oil put miners at risk, but warned abandoning the T125 panel would result in the pit being mothballed or closed ‘as it would probably be uneconomic to switch production to a later panel due to the long face gap entailed’.
The group said at the time that delays between finishing work on the current panel and starting work on the new panel could cost it up to £16 million.