Darlington geology students digging out career information through Shotton surface mine visit

May 21, 2012 | Brenkley News

A group of Darlington students have been finding out more about possible future career options by taking a tour of a Northumberland surface mine. 

The 23 students from the town’s Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College paid a visit to the Shotton site, which sits on the Blagdon Estate to the west of Cramlington, to find out more about how a modern mineral mining operation works and what sort of job opportunities there might be for them when they complete their studies. 

The visit was organised through the College’s links with former pupil Liz Shaw, who now works as a senior geologist for the site’s operator, Durham-based Banks Mining. 

The students, who will shortly be taking their A Levels exams, made the visit as part of their work around how geologists investigate the geological composition of a given site, and what measures they help put in place to meet the environmental responsibilities that come as part of planning approval for such a site. 

They were taken on a tour of the surface mine in 4×4 vehicles to see for themselves how it operates, and to hear from Liz Shaw and Banks’ environment and sustainability coordinator  Chris Rush about the different methods employed to minimise the environmental impact of the site’s operations. 

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. 

Sue Massey, head of Earth Sciences at Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College, says: “Adhering to prescribed standards around noise emissions, traffic movements and air quality are a core part of any mineral mining operation, and very much forms part of remit of the geologists working on the site. 

“Giving our students a first-hand opportunity to see how this is done on a live site not only adds greatly to the work that we do in the classroom, but also means they get a practical idea of how they might use their academic knowledge after they move into the world of work. 

“We got a great deal of extremely useful information from our visit to Shotton, and it was a real pleasure to see how Liz has gone on from our College to build a successful career for herself with Banks.” 

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. 

Mark Dowdall, Banks’ environment and community director, adds: “The environmental responsibilities that come with running an operation such as the Shotton surface mine are an absolute priority for us, and Banks is acknowledged as an industry leader when it comes to the investments we make and operational measures we put in place to ensure we live up to them.

“Offering the next generation of workers in our industry the chance to see for themselves how schemes such as Shotton operate on a day-to-day basis can only benefit everyone involved, and we hope that the Queen Elizabeth students’ day with us will help them when they both sit down for their exams and start planning their post-education career options.”

For further information visit www.banksgroup.co.uk/shotton

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