N Wales miners drop pit buyout

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The Independent Online
Last ditch efforts to save the Point of Ayr colliery, the last deep mine in North Wales, failed yesterday after 200 miners reluctantly decided not to go ahead with a management buy-out. Owners RJB Mining, which took over the 130-year-old mine from British Coal in 1994, had reportedly been willing to accept an offer of pounds 1.2m, but a study by management consultants convinced the workforce the mine was not viable.

Bernie Haniewicz, secretary of the local branch of the National Union of Mineworkers, said: "My reaction is one of great sadness, but we are big enough to stand up and say 'It's not going to work'. We worked closely with the consultants, so their recommendation did not come as a great surprise."

The mine is to close immediately, and the workforce is now being offered jobs at other RJB mines in Yorkshire and the Midlands, with more than 60 already expressing an interest in moving. Those who do not take up offers will be made redundant on the same terms available when RJB took over the mine in December 1994.

The miners approached RJB just over two weeks ago, following the company's closure announcement, and commissioned consultants KPMG to study the mine's feasibility.

Bill Rowell, RJB's managing director of deep mines, said: "After consulting independent professional experts, they have reached the same conclusion as RJB Mining - that viable mining operations at Point of Ayr cannot be sustained."

The colliery has made money in only two of the 80 weeks it has been owned by RJB, losing pounds 5m in 18 months. Over pounds 2m of equipment will now be removed, RJB said.

The closure leaves only two deep mines left in Wales, at Tower and Betws.