Fighting talk from Coal Investments

Malcolm Edwards, chairman and chief executive of the struggling mining group Coal Investments, yesterday vowed that the company would survive despite losing the right to mine a coal face at Hem Heath colliery near Stoke-on-Trent.

"We will survive," Mr Edwards said. "We will be profitable from January, although our cash flow will now be much lower," he added.

Privately the former British Coal director said yesterday that he had no intention of relinquishing his post as chairman. "I have a firm determination to see this thing through," he said.

Coal Investments asked for its shares to be suspended on Tuesday after Staffordshire County Council refused planning permission for the Rowhurst seam at Hem Heath. The company was relying on the extra coal and revenue from the Hem Heath colliery to support a refinancing and its fourth equity issue early next year.

The company and the banks, which have instructed Arthur Andersen to give independent advice, have gone back to the drawing board to re-evaluate the basis of the rights issue.

Some institutions have already said that they are not likely to support a rescue rights issue with Mr Edwards still in the position of chairman and chief executive. The company has appointed head-hunters to look for a new chief executive.

Mr Edwards, though, is confident he retains the support of his bankers, led by NatWest, UBS and Banque Indosuez.

Shares were suspended at 25p.

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