Cumbria’s £165m coal mine avoids Government call-in

Work is set to begin on the Woodhouse Colliery near Whitehaven early next year after the Government decided not to step in on the £165m project.

The plans by West Cumbria Mining cover mineral extraction over 50 years over a 689-acre site running to and beyond the St Bees coast, along with the refurbishment of two existing drifts leading to two new underground drifts; coal storage and processing buildings; office and change building, an access road, ventilation, power and water infrastructure and landscaping.

There is also provision for a coal loading facility and railway sidings linked to the Cumbrian Coast railway line with adjoining office and welfare facilities, along with the extension of railway underpass and permanent access on land off Mirehouse Road, Pow Beck Valley.

The intention is for coal to be moved entirely by rail to UK steel making and port destinations. The project sits within the West Cumbrian coalfield and is next to the former Haig Colliery, which was a working mine between 1914 and 1986.

Cumbria County Council backed the plans in March this year, but the scheme had faced calls for the Government to intervene, with MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale arguing in favour of a call-in.

However, ministers have declined to step in, allowing the scheme to go ahead as planned with work set to get under way in the New Year. Site preparation will begin early next year, with coal production targeted to commence in 2021.

The project will process up to 3.1m tonnes per year of coal; feasibility studies were completed in both 2016 and June 2019. Hargreaves and Priority Drilling have already been engaged to build the project.

West Cumbria Mining has also received £14.7m in private equity financing from EMR Capital Resources Fund, an Australian private equity backer focussed on mining.

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