Students from a Midlands University have been visiting the North East to learn more about how operations are developed and managed at the region’s biggest surface mine.
Around 20 students from the University of Derby’s Mineral Products Centre visited regional employer Banks Mining’s Shotton surface mine near Cramlington to see for themselves how a modern surface mine operates.
Organised by the Institute of Quarrying (IQ) and the University, the visit examined the work done on site by Banks’ team of geologists and engineers, including the ways in which coal is mined and how the land is restored and landscaped during and after mining operations.
The students were taken on a tour of the Shotton site to view the health, safety and environmental protection measures that Banks Mining has put in place, and also visited the nearby Northumberlandia landform, which was formed by Banks Mining using 1.5 million tonnes of carefully-selected stone, clay and soil taken from the Shotton site.
Julian Smallshaw, IQ’s head of education, who led the visit, says: “Study tours are a fantastic way of engaging with our peers across the industry, expanding our understanding and appreciation of our sector, and getting a first-hand view of the huge advances in extraction techniques, machinery, technology and production.
“Shotton is a very busy site and provided our group with an extremely useful opportunity to see lots of different aspects of its operation taking place.
“Northumberlandia provides a fantastic example of site restoration and just shows what can be achieved at this sort of site with some creative thinking.”
Banks Mining has been working in South East Northumberland for well over three decades, and contributes around £35m to the regional economy every year from the Shotton and nearby Brenkley Lane sites through wages, investments and the local supply chain.
The County-Durham headquartered firm also provides more than £400,000 in annual business rates to Northumberland County Council and Newcastle City Council through the two projects.
Jim Donnelly, operations director at Banks Mining, adds: “We’re always happy to share our experience with our peers in the extractive industries, and pleased that our visitors found their time on site both interesting and useful.
“A great deal of detailed planning goes into the work we do in South East Northumberland, from designing a site through to its restoration both during and after mining operations, and we have a highly-skilled team in place whose expertise ensures that our Shotton and Brenkley Lane sites operate as safely, responsibly and efficiently as possible.”