Banks Mining starts work restoring Spireslack surface coal mine

December 1, 2017 | Mining News

The Banks Mining restoration specialists at Ponesk and Spireslack, left to right: Ricky Millar; John Linton; Gordon Fleming; Andy Hastings; Bill Shearer; Steven Green; Jim McCutcheon; John McCall and Cameron Gibson.

Work on the restoration of a long derelict East Ayrshire surface coal mine has started following successful work at a nearby site by family owned employer Banks Mining.

The mining firm, which has an office in Hamilton, has commenced work at Spireslack to restore land at the abandoned mine.  The Scottish Mines Restoration Trust (SMRT) is working alongside Banks Mining on the Spireslack project.

The work will be carried out by the same 15-strong, Banks Mining, local workforce that has been working on the adjacent Ponesk surface coal mine, where work to replace soil is now due to be completed in April 2018 – when the worst of the winter weather is over.

The Spireslack site, near the town of Muirkirk, was abandoned when its former operators, Scottish Coal, went into administration in 2013, leaving a significant blot on the landscape including a 1km long void, large overburden mounds and numerous other areas of dereliction.

SMRT chairman Professor Russel Griggs OBE, said: “We’re pleased to be moving forward with Banks Mining as work begins on the restoration of the Spireslack site.

“Our partnership will help to bring the site back into viable use by the surrounding communities and we’re looking forward to seeing how the landscape changes and develops over the next few months.”

Jim Donnelly, operations director at Banks Mining, said: “I grew up in the area and spent the early part of my career working on sites in the Muirkirk area, so it saddened me when Spireslack was abandoned and left unrestored following Scottish Coal’s demise.

“It’s great therefore, that our local team of skilled operators at Ponesk will be able to continue their employment with us and transfer smoothly across to the Spireslack site.

“The work will help put the land back to productive and safe use and indeed make it much more in keeping with the surrounding landscape.

“We’re confident that our experience and technical expertise will improve the current situation at Spireslack in the same way we have transformed the former surface mine at Ponesk through the restoration works we have carried out there.”

The work will benefit the local community, making the area safer through the removal of a number of near vertical faces and regrading of the existing spoil mounds to create less steep sided hills, as well as sustaining the local jobs and providing opportunities for local firms to bid for works associated with the main restoration work.  Spireslack contains some unique geological features and is of significant international importance, is to be retained and does not form part of the restoration contract.

Judith Linton, Treasurer, Muirkirk Community Council says: “The community could not have asked for a better company than Banks Mining to restore the abandoned surface coal mines at Ponesk and Spireslack.  The Banks’ motto of ‘development with care’ really is Banks to a tee.  They have done an excellent job at Ponesk and we are very confident they will do an excellent job at Spireslack.  Banks are very approachable.  They go out of their way to help people in the local community.  We wish them godspeed with Spireslack.”

The Banks Mining team is expected to be on site until the summer of 2018, with the restoration scheme designed to maximise opportunities for the future use of the site.

Founded in County Durham in 1976, Banks Mining has operated and restored over 111 surface mines across Scotland and the north of England over the last 41 years, and has substantial experience of carrying out the type of work required at Spireslack.

Among many award winning restoration projects, Banks Mining was responsible for the development of the world renowned Northumberlandia – the Lady of the North – landform, which was fashioned using 1.5 million tonnes of carefully selected stone, clay and soil extracted from its adjacent Shotton surface mine in south east Northumberland as part of its ‘restoration first’ approach to working the still-operational site.  Northumberlandia is now a major south east Northumberland tourist attraction, with over 100,000 visitors per year.

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The community could not have asked for a better company than Banks Mining to restore the abandoned surface coal mines...

Site manager, Ian Ritchie, with the Spireslack site in the background. Clearly visible to right of the image is the geological exposure showing the carboniferous rocks on site. This picture was taken in 2016

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