Firm looks at return of coalmining
Last updated at 10:57, Thursday, 30 May 2013
THE prospect of reopening Whitehaven’s coal mining industry has been raised as a viable option by an Australian-owned company, Riverside Energy.
The company is looking to raise £13million privately to develop a mining plan which it says could result in £500million worth of investment and 500 new jobs.
While it is known there are still substantial coal deposits under the sea off Whitehaven, the cost of extracting it has always been an issue. British Coal said in the 1980s that it was not economic to further mine the deposits.
It seems Riverside Energy was originally looking for coal with the aim of extracting gas to sell to energy companies. But after viewing some British Coal plans from the 1980s and doing some preliminary drilling it has concluded that the Whitehaven coal was of such high quality that turning it into gas would be a waste.
The company estimates that the coalfield, extending across 200 sq km, mostly out under the sea, could produce up to three million tonnes of coal a year, equivalent to about one per cent of annual global exports of coking coal, a key ingredient in the making of steel. Currently the UK, and Europe, imports all its coking coal.
Local mining expert and ex-miner Ronnie Calvin said there was no doubt the coal was there but it lay where there was a lot of faulting.
“Haig Pit tried to get it out but were met with a nest of faults,” he said. “You possibly could get at it from just past Sandwith and going out that way. It could be done.
“British Coal didn’t really put a lot of effort into development at Haig.
“There are big coal seams out there and it is better quality coal, purer with fewer impurities, which makes it better for coke. It’ll take money to extract it, though. They may be able to make use of some of the old tunnels; they have good roofing.’’
Executive director of Riverside, Mark Kirkbride, a mining engineer from Middlesbrough, says: “The legacy of the 80s is behind us. This is not a trip down memory lane. It’s about a world-class deposit here and an opportunity to develop a mine.’’
Mr Kirkbride, 43, is currently chief executive officer of Itmsoil, which digs tunnels for Crossrail, the rail system linking the south-east with London. He is a committee member of the British Tunnelling Society and a Chartered Engineer.
First published at 10:53, Thursday, 30 May 2013
Published by http://www.whitehavennews.co.uk
Have your say
Is it cheaper to import coal from Poland or import workers to mine the coal here? Another Thatcherite disbenifit. No, I am not part of the looney left or the emerging looney right, just someone interested in local history with consideration re how the 'great and good' have abused our area, local included, over the years. The phrase containing the words 'headless chkens' comes to mind . . .
Well said 'splittingsideslaughing' you obviously know your West Cumberland coal mines. As I posted earlier, Riverside Energy's proposal 'What poppycock'. Never heard of them previously so 500 million pounds investment is I suspect way beyond their capability and seasoned private investors won't 'sign up'. With such a highly faulted Coal deposit even drilling wells for Coal Bed Methane would be too speculative and risky. My money is on the coal staying where it is. Sorry to say. I wish it could be different for West Cumbria's sake. God forbid we will become the depository for everyone else's Nuclear waste. If that's all the future has to offer for our communities, I shudder to think. One foot in the grave.
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