Multi-million pound plant investment supports Banks Mining’s Northumberland operations

March 15, 2016 | Brenkley News

North East employer Banks Mining is making a £3.5m investment in new mobile plant to enhance the efficiency of its current and planned future operations in Northumberland.

The family-owned firm will take delivery this month of six new Caterpillar 740B articulated trucks and two new JS220 JCB excavators at its Shotton surface mine site near Cramlington.

The British-manufactured equipment has been procured from two regional suppliers as part of Banks’ policy of working with local suppliers wherever possible, with the trucks being sourced through the Boldon branch of Finning (UK) and manufactured at Caterpillar’s Peterlee site, and the excavators being sourced through the Scot JCB dealership in Newcastle.

The Durham-headquartered firm has also looked further afield to bring in a second Orenstein & Koppel RH200 earthmover, which was previously located in Edmonton, Canada, and which was disassembled and brought across the Atlantic over a two month period at the end of last year.

A three month reassembly and refit programme has been carried out on the RH200 by a team of Banks Mining plant mechanics at the firm’s Thrislington site, including two of its most junior members with a view to giving them hands-on experience of working with a different type of machine.

The RH200, which will be used for both overburden excavation and restoration work at the Shotton surface mine, will be brought into full service later this month, and will join a similar machine that is already in operation there.

Durham-headquartered Banks Mining has worked in South East Northumberland for more than three decades, and currently employs over 200 people across its Shotton and nearby Brenkley Lane mining sites.

The two sites contribute around £35m to the regional economy every year through wages, investments and the local supply chain, as well as more than £700,000 in annual business rates to Northumberland County Council and Newcastle City Council through the two projects, and have enabled Banks Mining to donate around £800,000 to Northumberland groups and good causes over the last decade alone through the Banks Community Fund.

Paul Coates, regional manager at Scot JCB, which runs depots in Newcastle and Alnwick, says: “Scot JCB is delighted to be supplying The Banks Group with The JCB JS220LC Plus Excavators, as well as providing a service package that has been tailored to Banks’ specific requirements for the Shotton surface mine site.

“Having a client like Banks Mining on our doorstep is a real advantage for our business.  This is the first time that we’ve won a contract from them, and we’ve put together a package that will show them the high standards of services we provide, and our understanding of customers’ needs.”

Robbie Bentham, plant director at Banks Mining, adds: “Keeping our plant fleet up to date and refreshing it where necessary is essential for helping our teams working our surface mining sites in the safest, most responsible and most efficient way possible, and our continuing investment recognises the skills and expertise that they bring to the job.

“We looked at a number of options across the market and trialed several different types of plant, and as well as the specifications we made giving us the functionality we required to meet our particular projects needs, choosing to work with regionally-based suppliers in this way has enabled us to maximise our investment in the North East economy.

“The plant maintenance expertise that we have in house made sourcing and refurbishing this second RH200 an excellent option, and it has also enabled us to give some of the younger members of our team invaluable, practical experience in managing and maintaining this sort of vehicle.”

Gavin Styles, executive director at Banks Mining, says: “Coal is still a central part of the UK’s energy mix. In the last year, around 25% of the electricity that we all use to power our homes, businesses, schools and hospitals was produced through coal, yet over 85% of this coal was imported from overseas.

“The coal we produce at our Northumberland sites sustains substantial numbers of jobs for local people, supports British industry and electricity generation, creates considerable capital for investment in community improvement projects, heats homes across our region and helps to provide a responsible and reliable source of indigenous coal that reduces the UK’s reliance on imports from potentially unstable overseas markets.

“Banks Mining has a highly skilled workforce, as well as the in-house training capabilities that are essential to introducing new equipment such as this, and we’ll continue to make investments wherever we see appropriate opportunities.”

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