The following are extracts from the minutes of the 134th meeting of the Area Consultative Council which was held at Coal House, Llanishen on Monday 22nd of April 1985.


Aberthaw Power Station was currently operating well as part of the CEGB’s base load burn, with deliveries normally running at around 3.5 million tonnes, supplies during 1984/85 could reach 5 million tonnes as stocks were built up and it would continue to be the cornerstone of the Area marketing strategy. In the previous week, deliveries had been 110,000 tonnes, this was certainly one of the highest ever single week figures and there would be great benefits for the Area if this level of supply could be maintained.

Llanwern Steelworks was running at 16,000 tonnes of coal per week, and some coal had been delivered to Port Talbot and Scunthorpe Steelworks. However, British Steel was looking closely at the quality of UK coal compared to that of foreign coal and this, together with the uncertainty over the £/$ relationship would make national negotiations on price difficult. But if the negotiations went well there would be a good future for South Wales in this sector provided quality and price could be maintained at the right levels.

During the strike, Llanwern had worked on coal imported from Australia and the USA on 2 to 3 month contracts, current supplies to Llanwern were 16,000 tonnes per week as compared to 26,000 tonnes before the strike. On this level supplies would be made up of 4,000 tonnes from Abertillery, 6,000 tonnes from Marine and 5,000 tonnes from Celynen South. Some 5,000 tonnes per week of Oakdale’s coal was going to Scunthorpe in the absence of full production from the Kent Coalfield.

Due to its deep harbour facilities, Port Talbot could obtain its coal cheaper from abroad whereas we could obtain higher prices at Llanwern, and priority would be given to Cwm Coke Works, Nantgarw Coke Works and British Benzole.

It was estimated that some 15% of domestic customers had been lost to gas, but the Phurnacite Plant had restarted operations and deliveries would be made with the aim of getting the Works back to full production. There had been a gap in domestic supplies whilst output had been building up from deep mines but opencast supplies had helped to meet the post-strike market requirements.

State of the Coalfield

The Area Director was extremely pleased with the Coalfield’s recovery, with production having reached approximately 80% of the pre-strike figure, there were now eight collieries with output per manshift in excess of two tonnes, nine below one tonne, but three – Aberpergwm, St. John’s and Mardy – were in serious difficulty with OMS of less than 0.5 tonnes.

The Area Director continued to state that there were certain pits in the Area which were nearing the end of their natural lives and he had made his views known on these. But he accepted that inaccurate and groundless speculation, such as that surrounding the recent ECSC discussion paper which had indicated that up to 18 South Wales pits could close, was bad for morale. He was under no instruction to close eight collieries in South Wales though there were indeed four or five which, he felt, were coming to the end of their natural lives.

With regards to the merger of collieries, he stated that this had taken place for sound economic and operational reasons e.g. centralised coal winding and manpower deployment. There was no sinister plan underlying such link-ups and any future action would not be taken by stealth.


Information supplied by Ray Lawrence and used here with his permission.

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