Sept 18 Newsletter - Page 10

Client: West Cumbria Mining
Type: New Underground/Undersea Metallurgical Coal Mine
Location: Land south of Whitehaven, Pow Beck Valley, Offshore
main mine site are of a bold
and contemporary design in
both layout and finish and so
wholly different to traditional
coal mining infrastructure.
The proposal is for mining the
coal which is under the land
south of Whitehaven, and the
much greater reserves of the
Cumberland Coal field under
the sea off the coast at St
The proposals comprise a
number of components –
Hear the term ‘coal’ and what do we think?
Traditional mining infrastructure, winding towers,
large coal stockpiles, coal fired power stations?
It is time to change these preconceptions with the
Cumbria Metallurgical Coal Project (CMCP).
Firstly, the product is not coal
for use in power stations
(thermal coal). No, the
product is metallurgical coal.
More colloquially known as
‘coking coal’ this coal is not for
use for electricity generations
but is an essential ingredient
are no domestic mines
producing coking coal.
in the production of steel. This
is an important distinction.
Steel is essential to meet so
many of society’s demands,
and whilst the UK has steel
manufacturing plants there
• Russia – 950,000 tonnes
• USA – 902,000 tonnes
• Australia – 750,000 tonnes
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All of the UK’s coking coal is
imported. In 2017 the greatest
volumes of coking coal were
imported from:
Smaller contributions also
came from China, Canada
and the EU. The total amount
of imports for 2017 was 2.7
million tonnes. Figures for
‘Imports of coking coal to the
UK 2002 - 2017’ from Statista.
There are self-evident
economic and environmental
reasons to develop a mine to
produce coking coal to serve
the UK domestic market. Not
least of these is the significant
reduction in carbon emissions
arising from obviating the
need for sea transport of
coal from distant parts of
the world. Recognising these
benefits West Cumbria Mining
has been specifically created
to develop the coking coal
reserves in West Cumbria to
meet UK and EU demand for
this material.
The second reason why this
proposal differs from images
of traditional coal mining is
the design of the proposals. A
key principle was WCM’s clear
vision that the mine would be
state of the art, minimising
environmental impacts and
be something that the local
community would be proud
of. From the point at which
the coal is mined to the point
at which the coal is loaded
for transportation the coal is
contained within buildings.
The coal storage and
processing buildings on the
• Main Mine Site on the
former Marchon chemical
• An underground conveyor
to transport the coal from
the main mine site to the
• Rail loading facility in the
Pow Beck Valley;
• Underground and undersea
mining utilising in part
the portals to the former
anhydrite mine developed
for the Marchon plant.
mine is expected to be at least
50 years.
Stephenson Halliday
has been involved in the
project from a very early
stage. In 2014 we assisted
WCM in steering through
the planning system the
onshore exploratory drilling
programme. Since then we
have made significant contributions to the Environment
Statement and Design
Statement and prepared
the Planning Statement all
of which accompanied the
planning application which
was submitted in May 2017.
We have had continuing
involvement since then
providing planning advice
and guidance during the
period within which the
application has, and continues
to be, processed by Cumbria
County Council.
It has been a fascinating project to work on. There have
been numerous planning challenges arising from a
project which:
• Has both on and off shore components;
• Has ecological interests resulting in the need for Habitats
Regulation Assessment;
• Comprise a major development on a former industrial site
with potential historical contamination and with existing and
proposed new housing in close proximity;
• Includes a large component within a relatively undeveloped
valley landscape;
• Enjoys significant local support.
The project development team have been working collaboratively with Cumbria County Council and their advisors and
we are all looking forward to a positive outcome in the not too
distant future.
To find out more about the project visit:
Coal production is expected
to peak at a steady rate of
around 2.4 million tonnes per
annum. The lifetime of the
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