Councillor’s report on visit to Shotton Surface Mine
September 12, 2019
As the licence to extract coal from Shotton Surface Mine is due to come to an end in 2020, Banks Mining invited members of Cramlington Town Council along for a fact-finding tour.
We went along with councillor Pat Heard as she toured the open cast site – here are some interesting statistics she found out about the mine:
- There is still an enduring need for coal in the UK. In the manufacture of steel 1 tonne of coal is needed to produce 1.25 tonnes of steel and 1 tonne of coal is required to produce 5 tonnes of cement. About half a million tonnes of coal are used annually for a variety of uses such as domestic heating, food production and heritage railways.
- In 2018 the UK needed 12 million tonnes but only produced 2.5 million tonnes. The rest was imported and imports from Russia and the USA have doubled over the last two years.
- The area of the Shotton site is 988 acres and work commenced there in 2008. Coal production will continue until 2020 and the site will be fully restored by Autumn 2022. Over 7 million tonnes of coal has been taken from the site with fireclay and sandstone also extracted. The site has planning permission to generate traffic movements of up to 190 wagons a day, but the number of wagon movements has reduced as the site enters the final phase of coal extraction.
- One hundred and seventeen people work at the mine, making it a major employer in the Cramlington area and over £3m is paid in wages across the north east every year because of the site.
- Shotton Surface Mine generates about £500,000 in business rates each year, paid to Northumberland County Council.
- A liaison committee meet every three months to discuss any issues that arise with the local community.
Banks Mining operates a biodiversity plan at Shotton and surveys indicate that the population of lapwings, skylarks, brown hares and bats has increased across the site compared to figures taken pre-extraction.
Over 1.5 million tonnes of material from the site was used to build the Northumberlandia sculpture which opened as a public park in 2012.
Following the tour Councillor Heard said “I’d like to thank Banks Mining for the very informative tour of the Shotton site. The sheer scale is just amazing. I was pleased to note the concern that they take with environmental issues and that wildlife at the site has increased since they started operating there. I also appreciate that they take the impact on residents’ concerns very seriously and have taken measures to ensure that the open cast has the minimum possible impact locally. But I’m also aware that the site has resulted in a major environmental impact and of public concerns over the continued use of fossil fuels. It’s the job of me and my council colleagues to ensure a proper balance is struck between the economic benefits and environmental impact of open cast mining.”
Main picture: Cllr Pat Heard talks to site manager Neil Cook and Jeannie Kielty from The Banks Group.