UK Coal upbeat on property plans

UK Coal, the loss-making mining and property company whose largest shareholder is Peel Group, saw its portfolio value fall by nearly £10m in the first half of the year but said planning applications are "making steady progress".

The RICS valuation of UK Coal's property portfolio at the end of June was £384.2m compared to £393.8m in December 2009.

In July, UK Coal reshuffled the management board with Owen Michaelson, non-executive director of Peel, taking over a newly separated property division as managing director.

UK Coal has 86 projects planned around the county, mainly in Yorkshire and Northumberland, with the combined potential to deliver 30,000 homes and 32m sq ft of business space.

The only North West scheme is a business park on the Cutacre colliery straddling Bolton, Wigan and Salford. Mining at the site is due to finish in March 2011, following which 9m cubic metres of waste will be removed to reclaim the site for development. The scheme has partial consent and an application to extend the current consent has been made by Bolton Council as part of its Core Strategy process and is being considered by Government. There is existing consent for a 60-acre business park but the council wants to extend this to 200 acres, capable of holding 3.5m sq ft of offices, light industrial and distribution floorspace. There will also be a hotel, restaurants and health and leisure amenities on site.

David Jones, chairman, said: "Our property business has continued to make steady planning progress. This, together with strong agricultural land values, is helping to offset the pressures still present in the commercial and residential property market.

"Our plans to dispose of our non-core agricultural land and to joint venture future property development are both attracting considerable interest. We expect to announce significant surplus agricultural land sales before the year-end. Meanwhile, our estimates of the worth of our estate in 2014, with the benefits of the planning consents we are pursuing, remain unchanged at £820m in today's money terms, demonstrating the substantial value uplifts we believe we will be able to access."

The mining business reported sales of £141.3m, down from £159.8m in H1 2009, producing a pre-tax loss of £51.3m, reduced from £38.1m last time. Total net debt, excluding restricted cash stands at £257.0m (Dec 2009: £181.9 m).

In an attempt to clear its debt, UK Coal will bring 9,000 acres of non-operational agricultural land to market later this year. The company owns 43,000 acres, of which 28,000 are agricultural and will be sold. The RICS valuation of the agricultural tranche of the portfolio is £120m.

Jones added: "The very different natures of our mining and property businesses and the stages of development they have now reached have led us to change our management and corporate governance structure. As we have already announced, therefore, we have appointed managing directors for each division, who will report directly to the board, and we have commenced the search for an executive chairman.

"As a consequence of these changes, we have also welcomed Steven Underwood to our board as a non-executive director representing Peel Holdings, our largest shareholder, in place of Owen Michaelson who is now managing director of our property division."

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UK Coal will be fine, it’s fairly certain that they will get permission for the opencast mining, the deep mining has been sorted out and the property side of the business should start to generate decent returns as we continue to pull out of the mess so kindly donated to us by our kindly bankers and politicians.

By bobbo

Total agreement with Bobbo

By digger

Yes, UK Coal might be alright, but what about those of us having to live with a continuation of 70 years of opencast mining for the profit of private company from another part of the country. PS NIMBY arguments and energy security comments don’t wash; look what this company has done to the UK’s best available coal reserves. That’s right, sterilised them…


If UK Coal’s prospects are so good, why did the Auditors qualify the accounts by stating “These disclosures indicate the existence of material uncertainties which may cast significant doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.” Did it have anything to do with its Interim report contained the following information? Losses before tax £93.2m Accumulated losses £257m Net Assets £58.3m For more analysis of UK Coal’s finances read Briefing Note C1 "UK Coal’s Financial Situation and the Minorca Application @

By Underminer

My comments regarding UK Coal are purely financial and nothing to do with anything else. The company will start to make good money now that the problems with the deep mining are sorted out and the new coal prices will help too. It’s surprising how quickly a debt can be replaced by a profit and it’s usually the last 5% or 10% of turnover that makes a company a star. It’s a real problem for those near the opencast pit, but sooner or later someone is going to mine it and I thank my lucky stars that my kids aren’t going down coal mines in Colombia to mine the stuff that’s become very popular over here these days and also put good Englishmen out of work.

By bobbo

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