North East employer Banks Mining is set to put new plans forward to extract around 100,000 tonnes of high quality coal for supply to UK industrial customers from land to the west of its Bradley surface mine near Leadgate in County Durham.
The proposed additional area would provide continued employment for the 41 people on site and covers the area of land between the western edge of the current Bradley site, which sits off the A692 between Leadgate and Dipton, and the Jolly Drovers public house roundabout.
If the County Durham-headquartered firm is able to move the project forward through a positive local planning decision it will be able to complete operational and restoration work there within the same timescale of August 2021 that the existing Bradley site is operating.
The extension would enable Banks Mining to increase its support for local community groups and charities from the recently-launched Bradley community benefits fund from £52,000 to £100,000, with individual grants of up to £3,000 which are predominantly for capital projects being available to deserving local causes. The scheme will also enable the delivery of enhanced restoration proposals to a wider area, providing long term biodiversity and public access benefits in the Pont Valley.
An opportunity to visit the Bradley site will also be organised for local people in the near future to show them how the site is currently working and how the proposed extension would tie in with these ongoing operations.
Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at The Banks Group, says: “The Bradley site has been fully operational for more than six months and is working very well, and we remain committed to continuing to produce high quality coal at Bradley in the safest, most efficient and most responsible way possible.
“Imports of coal from Russia during January to March 2018 increased by over 730,000 tonnes compared to the same period a year earlier to make up for the shortfall in UK production. In one quarter the UK increased its reliance on imports from Russia by more than the entire tonnage of Bradley and this extension! Not producing good quality coal from local reserves is simply offshoring not only much needed jobs and value, but also environmental responsibilities leading to an unnecessary increase in global greenhouse gas emissions.”
The Bradley West extension would sustain the employment of the 41 people currently employed at Bradley, more than half of whom live within five miles of the site, as well as additional investment in the local supply chain.
The family-owned firm has also recently taken on five local apprentices at Bradley who are now progressing through a 12-month training programme and working towards achieving nationally-recognised vocational qualifications.
The amount so far invested by Banks Mining in the local supply chain for equipment and services at the Bradley surface mine recently passed the £1.5m mark, with more than 95% of the project’s total contractor spend so far having gone to businesses and service providers based in North East England.
Lewis Stokes continues: “We’re living up to our promise to provide local employment, contract opportunities and revenues for community improvements through the Bradley site, as well as contributing positively to the UK’s balance of payments, and are committed to taking the same approach at the Bradley West site.
“Being able to take the new project forward on the back of a local planning decision will mean we can complete work on the new coaling area within the same period as the existing site, and it makes clear sense to make efficient use of local mineral resources in this way rather than further increase our reliance on imports from distant locations.
“We will ensure that the local community is kept up-to-date with progress on our plans through our Bradley community liaison panel and other channels, and hope to be able to move this scheme forward as quickly as we can.”
Founded in County Durham in 1976, Banks Mining has so far restored over 111 surface mines across northern England and Scotland. Alongside its Bradley workforce, it also employs around 170 people at its Shotton and Brenkley Lane surface mines near Cramlington in Northumberland with a further 100 employed at its head office in Meadowfield near to Durham.