Shotton surface mine becomes learning environment for Cramlington primary school children

March 8, 2012 | Brenkley News

A class of Cramlington primary school children have been learning their lessons in a 300-hectare ‘classroom’ after taking a tour of a local surface mine.

The 24 Year Five pupils from Beaconhill Primary School paid a visit to the Shotton site, which sits on the Blagdon Estate to the west of their home town, to find out more about how a modern surface mine works.

And one of the children, nine year-old Casey Hepple, became the 1,000th visitor to the site that operators Banks Mining have hosted since they started work there in 2008.

The visit was organised to tie in with the children’s classroom studies on mining, which have formed the basis of a number of different lessons, including history, geography and art.

The children were taken on a tour of the site in 4×4 vehicles to see for themselves how it operates, and to hear from Banks’ experts about the different methods employed to extract coal from the ground.

They also got a close-up view of the new Northumberlandia landform, which is being built next to the Shotton site from around 1.5 million tonnes of compacted stone, clay and soil that has been taken across from the mine.

Casey Hepple says: “It was really fantastic – I loved it when we went in the Land Rovers and drove around the site.”

Teacher James Lewis adds: “The children had a fantastic experience at the Shotton mine, so much so that half of them have since said they want to work there when they leave school!

“It was a wonderful opportunity for us to see in real life a lot of the things that we’ve been looking at in the classroom this term – living in an area that has both historical and current links to the mining industry means that it still forms part of many different aspects of local life, and we’ve taken a huge amount of information away with us from our visit to Shotton that we’re using in several different lessons.”

Banks Mining employs around 150 people on its Shotton surface mine, along with a further 50 staff at the nearby Brenkley Lane site, and its mining operations in south east Northumberland are estimated to contribute around £20m to the regional economy every year.

Grants from the Banks Community Fund have also supported a wide range of community organisations in the area over many years, with more than £24,000 of funding being provided for the Beaconhill Community Association, the Cramlington Voluntary Youth Project and the Cramlington Village Community Association within the last year alone.

Mark Dowdall, Banks’ environment and community director, says: “Hosting such an inquisitive and well-behaved party of local visitors was a real pleasure for our Shotton team, and we hope they got everything they were hoping for out of their day with us.

“Banks has been working in south east Northumberland since the mid 1980s and continues to be a major employer in the area – we’re proud of the strong local links we’ve built and maintained here during that time and of the wide range of community facilities that have resulted from our mining operations.”

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