Dozens of new jobs could be created in County Durham later this year, as North East employer Banks Mining revealed it aims to secure the land rights required to operate the Bradley surface mine in the county.
Permission to extract around 500,000 tonnes of coal from the site was granted to UK Coal a number of years ago, and Banks Mining is now looking at the logistical requirements of initiating this project.
Over the last few months, the Meadowfield-headquartered, family-owned firm has been conducting tests to confirm the presence, location and details of the coal within the 71 hectare site, which sits off the A692 between Leadgate and Dipton.
Banks Mining anticipates that work to create a new access road onto the A692 will commence in spring this year, with the start of mining operations following soon afterwards.
These operations would be scheduled to run for between two and three years with all activity on site complete in 2021. Restoration will include the creation of a new nature reserve and parkland area, as well as the return of some of the land to agricultural use.
Around 30 new jobs will be supported at the Bradley site, along with others in the local supply chain, and a related community benefits fund would be created which would be available to support local projects and initiatives.
Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at The Banks Group, says: "Taking on the existing planning approval for the Bradley surface mine has been identified as one of a number of different options for how we can meet our continuing high customer demand for coal, and while we are still only at an early stage with this project, we wanted to update local people about what will be happening on and around the site in the coming months.
"As with all our projects, we will ensure local people, businesses and community groups are fully informed of our plans, and of the economic, employment, supply chain, environmental and social benefits that we would look to deliver as part of them.”
Gavin Styles, executive director at Banks Mining, adds: "Government projections state that coal will continue to be an important part of the UK's energy mix for at least the medium term, and while the country develops a range of alternative ways to generate power, reliable, high quality, locally-supplied coal will provide a vital bridge to the low carbon economy, as well as raw materials for the industrial sector.
“The North East is in an enviable position in terms of the access it has to energy resources such as this, and as a County Durham-based business with over 40 years' industry experience, we have the skills and expertise to operate and restore the Bradley site in a safe, responsible and efficient way."