October 17, 2016 | Mining News
The majority of workers at the Rusha surface coal mine, to the west of West Calder, where coal extraction was recently suspended, have been able to continue working as the operator, Banks Mining, restores the site and succeeds in securing a new contract to restore another surface mine.
Banks Mining’s Rusha surface mine was forced to suspend coal extraction earlier this year due to the closure of Scotland’s last coal fired power station at Longannet. However, as a responsible operator, Banks Mining has been focussing efforts on the restoration of the site which will continue over the next two years whilst alternative local markets in Scotland for the remaining coal are being explored.
The Rusha site will be restored to a mix of diverse woodland and grazing land with the creation of additional water bodies, areas of ecological interest and new public footpaths.
After successfully securing the contract with East Ayrshire Council for the restoration of the former surface coal mine at Ponesk, near the town of Muirkirk which was abandoned by Scottish Coal in 2013, all of Banks Mining’s employees at Rusha were given the opportunity to relocate to Ponesk.
Jim Donnelly, operations director with Banks Mining, said: “As a family firm, continuity of employment for our highly skilled workforce is very important to us and through securing the restoration work at Ponesk we have been able to plan our operations in such a way that we were able to offer alternative opportunities for our workforce at the Rusha site.
“Unfortunately, the option of working at Ponesk did not suit everyone and a small number of the team chose to take redundancy instead”.
Jim added: “We will continue to explore all possible viable alternative markets for the coal from the Rusha site and we will continue with the restoration until the site has been fully restored in accordance with the planning permission for the site.”
Banks Mining estimate that the Rusha site has contributed more than £5 million to the local economy each year through wages and other supply chain contributions.
The Rusha surface mine started production in 2012. Banks Mining is part of the Banks Group. The Banks Community Fund was established to support community groups and voluntary organisations in the vicinity of the Banks Group’s developments, ensuring that local communities share the benefits from Banks presence in the area.