Coal Glorious Coal

No more of this London centric transport rubbish, it is time to broaden my horizons and move up ‘tut north with some UK coal mining related news.

UK Coal, the people who optimistically brought the remnants of British Coal, have decided that turning a regular stonking loss isn’t a good idea (it didn’t work well for British Coal so they can’t say they weren’t warned) and so are looking at ‘expanding their options’. Or in other words being brought out by someone else.

In the finest British Coal traditions the deep mines are haemorrhaging cash, digging out ~6 million tonnes of coal but contriving to lose £14 million while surface pits churn out a mere ~1.5 million tonnes but make a profit of over £10 million. To put in context quite how awful the coal mining side of the biz is look at the market cap (£170 million) and compare with the valuation of the property portfolio around all the mines they’ve shut (£420 million). Thus the coal industry is valued at approximately -£300 million, all of which is almost certainly due to the loss making deep operations. Of course the 2009 results could be a stormer, but as only the first half interim report is available (and it looks even worse than the figures above) I doubt it.

While it’s always nice to see even more confirmation that deep coal mining in the UK is a damned stupid idea I fear the Guardian, despite reporting this news, will fail to learn anything from it.

To conclude I bring your attention back to this picture from the Guardian article;

A closed mine

The quite delightful Wistow mine which as the Guardian correctly notes is on the site of the Selby Mine Complex. However the slight problem is that both the Wistow Mine  and the entire Selby Complex are closed and has been for many years. Whether this is ignorance, incompetence or just an excellent illustrative picture of the problems with UK Coal (all their mines have been shut because they lose a fortune) I know not, but on past Guardian form I’d guess one of the first two.


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