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Detailed Lists, Results and Guides

THE MAIN COLLIERY CO. 1 (LIMITED). j CHAIRMAN AND FUTURE WORKING OF THE PIT. The annual meeting of the Main Col- liery Company, Ltd., was held on Tues- day at the Grand Hotel, Bristol, Sir Geo. White, Bart., presiding. Sir George White stated that in sub- mitting the directors' report and accounts for the year ending 30th June, I have to remind you that it includes eleven months of the war period, and has therefore been attended by many misfortunes which probably hit us harder than many coal owners in South Wales because, unlike tlio Rhondda Valley coal, ours is of a character which does ont command any sale to the Admiralty, but which we have to sell as to four-fifths of our output in France, a large portion of which is for that kind of domestic stoves which are unused in this country, and much of the small coal we sell for the preparation of patent fuel. In the early stages of the war it was simply impossible to ship because the insurance rate was about twice the value of the coal, whilst, later on, we had to exercise great caution in the sales and dealings in con- sequence of the dislocation of the French i markets. The result was that our output went down rapidly, and. from that cause and holidays, our pits were m-actically idle an average of 75 days duwkg the year. I need not tell you that such a state of things was also calculated to run the cost up, so that it is not unsatisfactory that we should have emerged as well as we have done. Notwithstanding all our troubles we cannot but be gratified that 425 of our men have joined His Majesty's Forces or' left for munition works, and had it not been for the steps taken by us to secure workmen, thrown out of employment by the stoppage of other collieries in the dis- trict, our position would have undoubtedly been even more seriously affected as is shown by the fact that the total number of men employed on the 30th June was only 1,665 as compared with 2,065 on the same date in the previous year. As the result of the year's working we have made a net profit of £4,670 only, so that we cannot pay a dividend, but we set aside the various amounts stated in the re- port for renewals and depreciation which total 917,OW as against £ 7.500 set aside in the former year, when the gross profit was I about the same, viz., £ 21.900. Circumstances have arisen, some of them during the past year, which have made it incumbent that we should incur the extra outlays referred to in the re- port, and although I have read some- where that we might have charged these itemfc to capital account and so enable a dividend to be paid, such a course; would have been most unwise. Moreover, we are overdrawn at our bankers, and have already increased that overdraft in order to pay the 1914 dividend which was in arrear until last week, and it certainly would be improper to still further add to it. I don't like this perpetual overdraft at the bank, and should hope, if possible this year, to see it got rid of once and for all. Some people seem to run away with the idea that coal mining is necessarily f. profitable venture, but they overlook the fact that in a colliery like ours, with a low-priced coal, the margin cf profit is so very small. Take the past seven years of our concern::— In 1909 our output was 450,936 tons, and the gross profit of the company from all sources before any writing off for de- preciation or renewals was per ton £ 6,871 or 3.65d. 1910 output A was 438,712— £ 13,465 or 7.35d. 1911 479,080— £8,471 or 4.24d. 1912 „ 410,510- £ 278 1913 1. 408,864— £ 13,170 or 7.73d. 1914 » 462,013— £ 21,975 or 11.41d. m-5 „ 398,052— £ 21,670 or 13.06d. so that over that period for 3,049,167 tons' the average gross profit works out at 6.76d. per ton. In order that you may follow the figures, I have had to take them as appearing in the published balance-sheets, but, as a matter of fact, of the profit of 6d. per ton no less than 2id. is made up of revenue from other sources such as rents of pro. perties, profits on working our own and other steamers, etc. The profits on the actual working of the collieries for the seven years therefore amounted to an average of only 4:ld. per ton. During that same period we paid away in wages alone .£1,102,000 or 7s. 3d. per ton, which is equivalent to about three-fourths of the average selling price of our coal. Out of the remaining fourth there were contribu- tions in rates and taxes to the amount of -037,740 or 3d. per ton, and then with the royalties, stores, renewals, and other charges there was very little left for the shareholders, and even the dividends which have been paid only go half-way to meeting the depreciation in the capital value of the shares during the same period. The amount distributed in Preference and Ordinary dividends over the seven years averages XIO.649 per annum, but during that period the market value of the shares has shown an average annual depreciation of £ 21,785. To show you how the award of 17! per cent to the men made by Lord St. Altfwyn in May will affect us, I may say that in money it represents at least double the amount of profit per ton which we have averaged during the past seven years. What the additional impost as the result of the strike in July will cost it is as yet impossible to say, whilst seeing we shall get better prices for coal during the war it will doubtless be covered, though im- mediately we return to normal conditions such a cost for wages alone would make it impossible to carry on. The narrow margin on which we always work is accentuated by the local condi- tions at No. 4 Pit, where the men's price list is unduly high, and the output is re- stricted by thenwwho, I fear, have not yet learnt the len as to "killing the goose that lays the golden egg." But un- less they do eo pretty soon it can only be a question of time when we shall have to .seriously consider the advisability of clos- ing down that particular pit, and of our normal staff of 2,000 men at least 700 men would be affected by our being forced to that conclusion. If we have fair play, we willstruggle on and still try to carry out developments, when I am perfectly cer- tain your directors could put the property upon a paying basis. It is a large under- taking, upon which former proprietors sunk and lost huge sums of money. This company bought it 2 years ago at a low figure compared with the money which had been spent upon it, but, even so, our own capital outlay is a quarter of a mil- lion sterling. Our principal landlords, the Neath Abbey Estate, Lord Dynevor, and Mr. Compton, have recently en- deavoured to encourage us to go on work- ing No. 4,' very considerately foregoing some of their royalties, but up to the pre- sent the men at No. 4 have not shown a willingness to reconsider their price list or to increase the output, though with a perfectly fair schedule which we have pro- posed, and by working the pit to its proper capacity, the men could still earn as high wages as at any of the adjoining collieries. I trust that even yet better counsels will prevail, and that the men will reciprocate our perseverance in keeping the whole of the pits going under the difficulties we have to face. It is not for want of object ltvssons. They have seen our next door neighbours, one after another, close down, ^having struggled with the same difficulties in working the same seam as long as they could. and tOne would suppose that amongst our men there must be a number who can read the signs of the 'titnf,s a!7. wcll as mcr 'tifaes ap well as most of Of eotirse, one of the hardships of our position is tn at our wages are governed by the Mon- xao»hshire a ..d Soiith Wales Joint Con- ciliation Board, and are subject to I exactly the same scale of percentages on wages and other conditions as affect the most profitable collieries in the Rhondda c and other districts. It seems a pity that the circumstances of each group of col- lieries cannot be dealt with on a more equitable basis, but the men's kaders, who, I believe, quite recognise the peculiarity of the situation, apparently see difficulty in varying the present ar- rangements, even though the jesults n,ay be disastrous to the collieries working the inferior grade of coal, though cne vculd think that it ought to be possible to ad- just matters in such a way as to er-able a pit like No. 4 to continue to exist. If we close the pit the suffering of toe men would probably only be temporary, as they would find places in other Lcenlities, but it would mean a breaking 1:p of their homes and a general dislocation in the immediate district. For instance, in the three parishes in which the collieries aie situated we pay one-seventh of the total rates, which would be thrown upon the I remaining ratepayers, with the result that the rates which now average 12s. 2d. in the £ would be materially increased. I have thought it well to deal ".vith the position very fully to-day, and 1 am sure you will agree that as so much < f our out- put goes to the North of France, the present juncture is one particularly for the exercise of business-like circumspec- tion. So far as the future is concerned, I and my colleagues are not without hope, and certainly not without determination, to use our best endeavours to yet place the Company in a better position than it has hitherto enjoyed.















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