North East employer Banks Mining has commenced mining operations at its new surface mine in its native County Durham.
The family-owned firm has now formally commenced the winning and working of minerals at the Bradley surface mine, which sits off the A692 between Leadgate and Dipton.
Work on creating the new access road off the A692 is also ongoing, with the team on site working to minimise disruption to road users.
Around 30 new jobs will be supported at the Bradley site when it is fully operational, along with others in the local supply chain.
Site operations are scheduled to run for between two and three years, with all on site activity complete in 2021. Restoration will include the creation of new woodland and a nature reserve area, as well as the return of some of the land to agricultural use.
The related community benefits fund, which will provide funding for support eligible local community improvement projects and initiatives, will go live in the coming months.
Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at The Banks Group, says: “We’re very pleased to have reached this milestone at Bradley, and to have been able to commence mineral extraction from the Bradley site.
“The road improvements are required to form a new access to the Bradley site, ensuring that all vehicle movements onto and off the site can be carried out as safely as possible.
“We have planned the required highways work carefully in conjunction with Durham County Council and Durham Police, and will undertake it as quickly and efficiently as possible so as to minimise disruption to local traffic.
“Government projections state that coal will continue to be an important part of the UK’s energy mix until at least 2025, and substantial amounts are also essential for a wide variety of important UK industrial processes, such as the manufacturing of cement and steel.
“The Banks Group has been creating highly-skilled and well-paid jobs in County Durham and around the North East for more than 40 years, and we are proud of the continuing contribution we are making to the sustainable success of the regional economy.”
Founded in Tow Law, County Durham in 1976, Banks Mining has operated and restored 111 surface mines across Scotland and northern England over the last four decades, and currently employs around 200 people at its Shotton and Brenkley Lane surface mines near Cramlington in Northumberland.
For further information on the Bradley surface mine project, please visit www.banksgroup.co.uk/projects/mining/bradley