100 jobs 'could go' at Unity Mine, Cwmgwrach

Unity Mine in Cwmgwrach

More than 100 workers may be laid off at Wales' largest drift mine, a miners' union has warned.

Wayne Thomas, general secretary of the South Wales NUM, said he would hold talks on Monday with the management of the Unity Mine at Cwmgwrach near Neath.

The mine, which opened in 2007, employs more than 200 people.

Neath MP Peter Hain said the mine's owner blamed delays in planning consents which were necessary to give confidence for new investment.

He said he was told 100 men would be laid off from the end of next week, with possibly more to follow unless the problems were resolved soon.

"This is deeply disappointing and I have asked that every effort is made to resolve the problems urgently," said Mr Hain.

"The fall in the world price of coal has also put pressure on Unity and made the planning delays more acute.

"The jobs are paid well above the local average and are vital for local communities.

"I have worked hard to try to support Unity Mine as an essential and important local employer."

BBC Wales has tried to contact the mine but nobody was available.

The jobs fears come seven months after nearly 300 mining jobs were lost at the Aberpergwm coal mine near Neath after the company announced a shutdown.

American firm Walter Energy announced in October it was consulting on a shutdown process, blaming poor economic conditions and a fall in demand.

A drift mine is one that miners can walk into rather than require a lift down to the coalface.

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