A group of Newcastle University students has been learning more about how they might build a future career in the extractive industries during visits to two North East surface mines.
Around 40 second year Earth Sciences and Environmental Science students visited regional employer Banks Mining’s Shotton and Brenkley Lane surface mines near Cramlington to see for themselves how a modern surface mine operates, to examine the work done on site by Banks’ team of geologists and engineers, and to learn more about the ways in which land is restored and landscaped during and after mining operations.
The visitors were taken on a tour of both the Shotton and Brenkley Lane sites to view how the health, safety and environmental protection measures that Banks Mining puts in place work in practice, and were also given presentations on Banks’ operations in the area, including on the creation of the nearby Northumberlandia landform, which was formed using 1.5 million tonnes of carefully-selected stone, clay and soil taken from the Shotton site.
The visit gave the students an insight into how the knowledge they’re developing on their courses might be applied in their future working lives – and feedback from the students, who came from across the UK as well as from mainland Europe and China, described the day as the best field trip they’d ever done.
Dr Martin Cooke, from the School of Natural and Environmental Sciences at Newcastle University, who led the visit, says: “The students we brought along are at the stage of their university careers where they’re starting to think about life after education, and part of our role is to try to show them how their academic skills will be applicable to the jobs they might eventually do.
“Visiting Shotton and Brenkley Lane really brought the opportunities to life for them, and getting the chance to hear from and talk to people who are doing the sorts of things that the students could soon be doing themselves will be very helpful.
“It’s the first time that these students have been able to visit to sites like these, and they all absolutely loved what they saw.
“The Banks Mining team put on a fantastic day for us, and it will support the academic work that our students undertake over the rest of their time with us.”
Banks Mining has been working in South East Northumberland for well over three decade, and contributes around £35m to the regional economy every year from the Shotton and Brenkley Lane sites through wages, investments and the local supply chain.
It also provides more than £400,000 in annual business rates to Northumberland County Council and Newcastle City Council through the two projects.
Jeannie Kielty, community relations manager at The Banks Group, adds: “We’re very pleased to have been able to host such an enthusiastic group at Shotton and Brenkley Lane, and to have given them a first-hand view of how we work.
“A great deal of detailed planning goes into the work we do in South East Northumberland, right through from designing a site through to its restoration, and we have a highly-skilled team in place who work hard to ensure that our Shotton and Brenkley Lane sites operate safely, responsibly and efficiently.”