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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 January 2008, 15:07 GMT
Miners vote on deep pit's future
Tower Colliery
Workable coal reserves at Tower Colliery are exhausted
The future development of Tower Colliery, Wales' last deep mine due for closure, has been put to a ballot by the miners who own the pit.

A shareholders' meeting was held to decide when to call an end to work at the Cynon Valley mine and select a firm to redevelop the site.

The pit first closed in 1994 but reopened a year later when 240 miners invested their redundancy money.

It is thought it will close for the last time on 25 January.

Around 150 shareholders from Tower Colliery met on Saturday morning to discuss what will happen to the site once the mine closes.

A secret ballot was held to select a company to help redevelop the 480-acre site but the results of the vote will not be made public until next week.

Tower has been hailed for its success - it has employed 375 miners since it reopened 13 years ago.

Drift mine

First Minister Rhodri Morgan cited the buy-out by the miners as a pivotal moment in Wales' national self-confidence which led to the vote for devolution in 1999.

However, Tower's depleted coal reserves has meant it is expected to close this month, or early February, depending on whether a newly-discovered coal seam can be worked out.

Mine leaders have been in talks to set up a joint venture with Aberpergwm drift mine in the Neath Valley and it is hoped around 100 jobs could be saved if the venture goes ahead.

To mark the colliery's impending closure, managing director Tyrone O'Sullivan and Cynon Valley MP Ann Clwyd have agreed to participate in a talk at Ramoth chapel in Hirwaun on Sunday evening.

The 1800 GMT event will look at the pit's role in the community as well as give a dozen past and present miners the opportunity to share their experiences.

'Future without mining'

Chapel elder Ivan Davies said: "It's the end of a era. The very reason these valleys were established as large communities is totally as a result of mining.

"These important events just seem to slip away and they are forgotten.

"My idea is to look at the significance of this event, to pay our tribute to what's gone on the past and look forward to the future without mining."

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