Plans for a new surface mine on the border between Newcastle and Northumberland which would support up to 50 jobs are set to move forward.
A planning application for the Dewley Hill surface mine, which would be located on agricultural land to the north of the A69’s Throckley junction and to the east of the B6326 Ponteland Road, is expected to be submitted to Newcastle City Council in the coming weeks.
The project is being progressed as a partnership between Banks Mining, part of County Durham-headquartered employer the Banks Group, and Ibstock Brick, the owners of the Throckley Brickworks which is around half a mile from the Dewley Hill site.
The scheme would run for a limited period of three and a half years from the start of operations to the completion of restoration.
Around 800,000 tonnes of high quality coal would be extracted from the site, most of which would be used for industrial purposes such as the production of steel and cement, as well as 400,000 tonnes of fireclay, which will be used in the manufacturing of bricks at the local brickworks.
Jeannie Kielty, community relations manager at The Banks Group, says: “The UK continues to require coal to meet a range of essential industrial, commercial and household needs, and it is undoubtedly in the national interest to continue to invest in skilled mining jobs in North East England instead of increasing our already substantial reliance on coal imports from overseas locations such as the US, Colombia and most especially Russia.
“Imports of coal from Russia increased by over 730,000 tonnes between the first quarters of 2017 and 2018 to make up for the shortfall in UK production, which is almost as much as would be produced at Dewley Hill in total, yet the per tonne carbon dioxide emissions generated by the transportation of these imports alone are many times higher than the equivalent figure for transporting coal mined at home.
“Increasing imports of coal simply ‘off-shores’ our environmental responsibilities without the significant local economic and employment opportunities and environmental enhancements that Banks Mining projects like Dewley Hill will deliver and would inevitably result in a global increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
“Fireclay is an essential component of the brick-making process, but is only found immediately beneath coal seams and therefore can only be accessed when extracting the coal seams which lie above it.
“This vitally important mineral is in very short supply in the UK and Dewley Hill will provide much needed future fireclay supply for the Throckley Brickworks, which will not only help protect North East jobs but will also assist the national drive to build more homes across the UK.
“Gaining access to these indigenous, raw materials will also further extend the Dewley Hill scheme’s positive contribution towards the country’s balance of payments.”
Having initially introduced the project in 2016, Banks Mining is now set to hold a surgery for local residents where they can book appointments to meet the Banks Mining Team between 10.30am and 7pm on Tuesday 26th February at Throckley Village Hall to talk through the details of the scheme and find out what will happen next.
The event will also provide further details of how the surface mine would deliver a range of social, economic and environmental benefits, including a £50,000 community fund, a £50,000 skills fund to help local unemployed people overcome barriers to work, the planting of over 26,000 trees and hedgerows in a newly-created woodland area, and the enhancement of local heritage assets such as the historic wagonways, which are surviving examples of the rich mining heritage in the region.
Jeannie Kielty continues: “The Dewley Hill site has the potential to support up to 50 highly skilled, well-paid jobs, as well as to open up substantial new opportunities for local suppliers and extend our long-term record of investing in the communities in which we operate.
“All our operations are specifically designed to bring a wide range of economic, employment, social and supply chain benefits to the communities in which they’re based, and as a North East company with over four decades of surface mining experience, we have the skills and experience required to work the Dewley Hill site in a safe, efficient and environmentally responsible way.”
Nick Spence, Planning and Estates Manager for the North at Ibstock Brick, adds: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Banks Mining on this application project, as not only is this a joint mining programme that will deliver the raw materials we need, but it’s a joint ethos.
“Our approach to sustainable working is culturally aligned to Banks’ development with care approach, which places high value on community engagement and support and care for the environment.”