Jobs saved at collapsed mining firm Aardvark

ATH Resources' Glenmuckloch facility (picture courtesy of Kath Jones) ATH Resources was the holding company for operators in Ayrshire, Fife and Dumfries and Galloway until its collapse in December

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More than 230 coal jobs have been saved after an energy and waste services group bought parts of collapsed surface mining firm Aardvark (TMC) for £10.4m.

The move came as liquidators were appointed for Aardvark, the main trading arm of ATH Resources, which was put into administration in December.

ATH said Hargreaves Surface Mining Limited (HSML) had acquired "certain assets" from Aardvark.

All 237 employees are to be offered new contracts of employment by HSML.

Aardvark has surface coal mining operations in East Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway, and Fife.

Earlier this year, Hargreaves bought £12.5m of debt from ATH's lender, Becap Capital, whose demand for repayment forced the company into administration.

The sector has been in crisis because of a slump in coal prices.

In a statement, ATH Resources said it had decided to wind up Aardvark voluntarily and appoint KPMG as liquidators.

Options 'explored'

The company said Aardvark directors had explored options for a "consensual, solvent, restructuring of the business" with HSML, while trying to avoid compulsory liquidation.

It continued: "The company was unable to secure the necessary stakeholder support to implement a solvent or consensual option, and the board was left with no choice but to seek to wind up the company.

"In recommending the voluntary winding up, the board has facilitated a plan whereby HSML has acquired certain assets of the company.

"All 237 employees are to be offered new contracts of employment by HSML."

Hargreaves Services chief executive Gordon Banham said the transaction brought to an end "a long and complex restructuring process".

He continued: "Whilst it has been a lengthy and difficult exercise, we are very pleased with the end result.

"In comparison with an unstructured liquidation, we have saved or created over 230 jobs and been able to continue mining operations at two of the key sites.

"The number of properties that have had to be disclaimed by the liquidators have been significantly reduced.

"The continuance of operations at Netherton and Duncanziemere, together with the planned resumption of activity at Glenmuckloch, will greatly assist in achieving long-term restoration."

Netherton and Duncanziemere are located in East Ayrshire, while Glenmuckloch is in Dumfries and Galloway.

HSML said it would provide site services to ensure that the mines continue in operation.

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