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L6th Form Business & Economics students visit The Royal Mint and Lewis Merthyr Colliery

On Tuesday 11 June, L6th Business and Economics students went on an enrichment day to South Wales to visit the Royal Mint in Llantrisant and the Lewis Merthyr Colliery at Porth. 

Alighting first at The Royal Mint, students were given a tour of the works and an informative talk about the history of the institution, from the minting of the first coin in 886AD to decimalisation, which necessitated the move away from Tower Hill in London to its present site in 1968. Interestingly, this move was driven by the sometime Cardiff MP and Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Lord Callaghan in a bid to increase employment opportunities in his constituency. Afterwards, we were spoken to by the directors of the business's two newest and most profitable revenue streams: bullion and commemorative coins. In an economy that is rapidly moving towards being cashless, this exploration of complementary and symbiotic operations is incredibly relevant and very much the embodiment of Schumpeter's theory of creative destruction. 

With lunch on the hoof, students boarded their coach and headed to Porth for a tour around a coal mine. The Lewis Merthyr Colliery once produced more coal annually than any other colliery in Wales and was the principal seller of coal to both White Star and Cunard shipping lines during the golden age of Olympic ocean liners. Our tour was led by Peter, better known by his nickname 'Tapper,' a fellow who in 1970, and at the tender age of 23 years already had nine years' experience of hard, dangerous subterranean labour, and had become Pit Supervisor for the night shift while playing rugby as a prop forward for Neath and then Pontypool.

The colliery tour took in the route that a miner would take on his way to getting into the "cage," which descended at 30 feet per second and took all of 42 seconds to arrive at its destination, 1,426 feet below ground level! Students were then invited to take a very much more sanitised ride down into the pit and a walk around the upper network of tunnels while Tapper explained the process of mining. What is interesting was his explanation that this pit was closed in 1983, not because of Baroness Thatcher's programme of closures but because it had become increasingly dangerous as well as costly to mine coal at such a depth. 

Peregine Nunes-Carvalho, Teacher of Economics says "This was an enjoyable day that presented students with the opportunity to learn something about the economics of both mint and mining industries and, from a strategic perspective, how a business must continually look to innovate to remain relevant and solvent in the modern world."



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