News emerged this week about 2 of Scotland’s major coal producing companies highlighting the financial insecurities of an industry struggling to remain viable through the current economic times. Shares in ATH Resources plumited by 42% as it reduced the expected revenues from its Muir Dean open cast coal site by £4 million. Current forecasts put ATH’s pre tax losses for 2012 at over £6.5 million and its overall market worth has been cut by a quarter.
Scottish Coal have also been reporting financial problems, being behind budget in a number of areas and with few signs of improvement on the horizon. Wet weather over the winter period was reportedly to blame for the recent shortcoming in production but with the 20% fall in coal prices over the last 5 months, reduced profitability of future contracts cannot be blamed on the weather. Palmaris Capital (16.5% shareholders in Scottish Coal) have stated, “SRG management was exploring ideas including opening new, lower-cost mines” which likely indicates further redundencies amongst workers.
Sadly, it seems that such ideas are already being acted upon in South Lanarkshire with yet more worker lay-off being talked about amongst the mines in this region showing (yet again) the ruthless and hypocritical management of Scottish Coal. Not only are communities secondary to profit margins but so too are the lower level workers treated as dispensable pawns in an unsustainable, short sighted game. Whatever direction the wind blows, the money flows one way and hard times the other.