THE company behind west Cumbria’s new coal mine has secured a multi-million pound funding package – which will see the project move forward.

West Cumbria Mining announced that the funding will ensure the next phase of project development works are fully funded throughout 2023 and construction beginning in 2024.

It comes as environmental campaigners prepare for a last-ditch attempt to overturn the Government’s decision to approve the mine.

A legal challenge by Friends of the Earth (FOE) and South Lakes Action on Climate Change (SLACC), was thrown out by the High Court last month.

Climate groups will ask the High Court to reconsider the refusal at a hearing due to be held on Tuesday, May 23. A judgement is expected to be issued on the same day.

A statement from West Cumbria Mining said: “WCM is pleased to advise that we have now successfully closed out a new multimillion pound funding package which will ensure the next phase of project development works is fully funded throughout 2023 and construction commencement through 2024. 

“WCM is also working hard behind the scenes on various workstreams, including the recruitment of key senior personnel, detailed engineering design, equipment procurement, progression of planning condition discharge and other associated pre-start work.

“WCM is looking forwards to scheduling update events in summer 2023 as we progress toward construction start.”

Tony Bosworth, coal campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “This update suggests the company behind the mine has secured funding to start the initial preparatory work for the project, but not yet the funding needed to carry out the full construction.

“We know the market for the mine’s coal is receding very quickly, particularly because steelmakers across Europe are already moving to greener production methods.

“This is a double-blow for the mine, not least because this is where much of the mine’s coal would be exported, and because UK steelmakers know they too must go green if they wish to stay competitive internationally.”

The new Woodhouse Colliery in Whitehaven will extract metallurgical coal from beneath the Irish Sea for the production of steel.

West Cumbria Mining say the project will employ 532 people once the mine is in full production and will create 1,500 indirect jobs.