ATH mining a difficult seam of problems with coal price slump

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COAL mining group ATH Resources yesterday said it was writing off £2 million due to issues at one of its sites in Scotland.

The company, which has seen its market value fall sharply in recent months due to a drop in international coal prices, said problems caused by old mine workings at its Muir Dean site in Fife have again increased, further reducing coal production and increasing costs.

A decision whether to mine an extension to its Glenmuckloch site in Dumfries and Galloway has already been deferred until the end of the calendar year.

The group stressed that it was working with local authorities and other stakeholders on initiatives to minimise the number of redundancies as a result of the delay. It is thought around 60 posts could be at risk.

Coal prices have slumped by 21 per cent since January and 28 per cent since the start of the firm’s financial year in October.

ATH reported an operating loss before exceptional items of £3.9m in the six months to 1 April compared to a profit of £1.7m in the same period last year.

Alistair Black, chief executive of the Doncaster-based company, said: “With commodity markets forecasting that future prices will not stage any meaningful recovery in the medium term, the group has reviewed all of its existing and future operations with a view to concentrating investment on those sites which will continue to generate cash even in this depressed market.”

Shares in the company closed down 22 per cent, or 1p, at 3.5p.