Need For Coal

Why import coal when we can mine our own coal?

Coal is a valuable mineral resource that is used for a variety of purposes including: iron and steel manufacture; cement manufacture; coke manufacture; domestic heat generation; food and beverage production; chemicals production; patent fuel manufacture (smokeless briquettes); carbon fibre products manufacture and other uses. Over the last decade or so around 9 million tonnes per annum of coal has been needed in the UK for non-electricity generation purposes. (The mean average from 2006 to 2016 of coal used in the UK for non-electricity generation purposes was 9.3 million tonnes). Source: Digest of UK Energy Statistics 2017, table 2.1.2, available at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/solid-fuels-and-derived-gases-chapter-2-digest-of-united-kingdom-energy-statistics-dukes, see Excel spreadsheet.

See motion in Parliament regarding Demand for Coal in UK, from June 2018.

We are proud that some of the coal we have produced from our North East mines has been supplied to Tata Steel in South Wales, where it has been used to make steel. In turn some of this steel (the appropriate grade) has then been supplied to Nissan Sunderland in the North East where it has been used to make cars such as the Qashqai, the Juke and the all electric Leaf.

Coal is still used for electricity generation in the UK. Figures fluctuate depending upon the weather conditions and demand.  In the so called “beast from the East” cold snap, in the week commencing Monday 26 February 2018, electricity generated by the seven active coal fired power stations in Great Britain accounted for over a quarter of the total electricity produced each day that week.

The seven active coal fired power stations in Great Britain are: 1) West Burton; 2) Eggborough; 3) Aberthaw B; 4) Fiddlers Ferry; 5) Ratcliffe; 6) Drax and 7) Cottam.

In 2017 the UK coal fired power station fleet burnt around 14.5mte of coal. Please see: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/643414/DUKES_2017.pdf, table 5.3 Fuel used in generation, page 137

Unabated coal fired power stations are due to come offline by 2025 under the Government’s current plans.

The bar chart on the left shows the amount of coal used for non-power generating purposes in the UK for 2006 to 2015.

(1) Non power generating uses of coal, as defined by the UK Government, include iron and steel manufacture; cement manufacture; coke manufacture; domestic heat generation; food and beverage production; chemicals production, patent fuel manufacture (smokeless briquettes); carbon fibre products manufacture and other uses.

Balance of trade deficit

We believe in a low carbon economy. Coal is a crucial bridge to that low carbon economy.

• Currently the UK imports around 70 per cent of the coal used to generate electricity in the UK from Russia, Colombia, the USA and Australia. In previous years it has been as high as more than 80 per cent. Please see: Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics (DUKES) 2017, Table 2B Coal imports of coal in 2017, published July 2017, page 41. The majority of UK coal imports came from just three countries. In 2016, 75 per cent of the UK’s total coal imports came from Colombia (2.7 million tonnes), 27 per cent (2.3 million tonnes) came from Russia and 17 per cent (1.4 million tonnes) came from the USA.

• In 2014 the net cost to the UK of these coal imports was around £1.8bn. In 2013 it was £2.7bn. In 2015 it was £730m. Please see: Energy: Chapter 1, Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics (DUKES) 2017, Table 1.4 Value balance of traded energy in 2016, published July 2017, page 33.

This is why the development of new surface coal mines is so important. By mining our own coal we:
• Increase the security of supply of power by reducing reliance on foreign countries such as Colombia, Russia and the USA for imported fuel
• Help keep consumer bills low
• Create jobs in the UK
• Help the balance of trade deficit
• Provide valuable tax receipts and business rates to national and local government
• Reduce the distance coal has to travel, thereby saving carbon in transportation
• Ensure it is mined in a safe manner to the highest environmental standards. Coal mined in the likes of Russia and Colombia is mined under lower environmental standards than in the UK
• Support local businesses who provide support services to surface mines
• Keep money and skills within the UK

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