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Wednesday, 29 July 2015

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New mining project engages community

THE company looking to extract up to three million tonnes of coal a year from a proposed new drift mine near Haig Pit has ruled out moving it by road.

by Margaret Crosby

It has turned its focus on existing rail links and to shipping from the Port of Workington, though nothing is yet decided.

West Cumbria Mining Ltd, via its Whitehaven Coking Coal Project, is looking to engage the local community in its plans and this week held a well attended two-day exhibition, at Whitehaven on Tuesday and at St Bees on Wednesday, setting out its agenda.

Among those who turned up were several seasoned miners who had worked 30 or 40 years down Haig Pit. Reactions in the main were favourable. Most welcomed the proposed £15million investment and the prospect of 500 new jobs, while others had concerns about the environmental impact.

On hand was Mark Kirkbride, chief executive of West Cumbria Mining, who said: “This has the potential to bring significant economic benefits to the area, including high quality new jobs. We are committed to maximising local resources and skills and recruiting locally wherever possible.”

Discussions have begun with Copeland councillors. The company’s intention is to start with four onshore drilling holes this September and carry out environmental and social studies. In spring 2015 an offshore drilling programme would be undertaken to confirm the quality of seams.

Mining techniques have moved on since Haig closed in 1986. Remote coal cutting machines are used together with computer controlled supports and equipment to ensure safety.

The coking coal extracted would be for steelmaking.

The drift mine method is likely though shaft access has not been ruled out. The mine would be located between the south of Whitehaven and the north of St Bees.

Have your say

Anne, we DO still make steel in this country at several locations - and we currently import over 6 million tonnes of coking coal to do so! However, I don't think you need to worry about this proposal becoming reality. Having attended one of their exhibitions last week all I saw was yet another bunch of outsiders, none with any experience whatsoever of the local pits, claiming that their modern techniques and equipment will solve all the problems that generations of locals were unable to overcome. Couldn't decide if it was naivety or arrogance but they'll still get a shock (if it even gets to the sinking stage).

Posted by Mowdy on 25 July 2014 at 11:52

The coal will be used for steelmaking, is that so, and where do we make steel now???? Oh yes, we don't it's imported from China, we don't make steel, so therefore why do we need to mine the coal? - answer - we don't, yet again, something not needed.

Posted by Anne on 18 July 2014 at 17:19

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