January 31, 2017 | Brenkley News
North East employer Banks Mining has become the first mining company anywhere in Europe to successfully complete the comprehensive assessment for the global Bettercoal initiative, a scheme designed to improve operating standards in the coal mining industry.
The Durham-headquartered firm is now one of only two firms across the continent, and the only one in the UK, to be a fully-approved participating supplier in the Bettercoal scheme, a not-for-profit initiative established by a group of major European utilities to promote the continuous improvement of corporate responsibility in the coal supply chain.
The Bettercoal Assessment Programme has a specific focus on the way in which surface mining sites are managed, which it assesses against a comprehensive set of standards which make up the Bettercoal Code.
It is verified by independent third-party specialist firms through site visits and analysis of a self-assessment questionnaire completed by the site operator, and the implementation of continuous improvement plans which are then reviewed at future re-assessments.
It aims to make an on-the-ground difference for workers, communities, local companies and the environment, and sets out the ethical, social and environmental principles and provisions with which the utility members of Bettercoal expect organisations producing coal in their supply chain to align.
Founded in County Durham in 1976, Banks Mining has so far worked and fully restored 110 surface mine sites across northern England, the Midlands and Scotland.
It currently employs around 200 people across the Shotton and Brenkley Lane mining sites near Cramlington in south east Northumberland, where it has worked for more than three decades, and it is currently working towards progressing two new North East site, Highthorn in Northumberland and Dewley Hill near Throckley.
The two operational sites currently contribute around £35m to the regional economy every year through wages, investments and the local supply chain, with the coal produced being used by a range of customers for a variety of industrial, domestic and power generation purposes.
Jim Donnelly, operations director at Banks Mining, says: “We have a highly-skilled and professional team that runs our mining sites in a safe, responsible and efficient manner, and being the first company in Europe to achieve this accreditation is a real testament to the excellence of the work that they all do.
“The robustness of our systems and processes was thoroughly tested during the Bettercoal assessment, and it’s pleasing to see how well they stood up to what was a very rigorous review.
“We are continuing to make significant investments in the training and development resources available to our mining teams, and run our own bespoke modular training programme through which skills and career development opportunities can be extended and improved to the benefit of both employees and the business.
“The coal we produce at our Northumberland sites sustains substantial numbers of North East jobs, supports British industry and electricity generation, creates considerable capital for investment in community improvement projects, heats homes across the UK and helps to provide a responsible and reliable source of indigenous coal that reduces domestic reliance on imports from potentially unstable overseas markets.”