First new coal mine in England for 30 years granted planning approval

The firm behind the project will extract and process around 2.7 million tonnes of metallurgical coal every year to supply it to the steel industry

Cumbria County Council has granted planning approval to West Cumbria Mining (WCM) to develop the first coal mine in England for 30 years.

The Cumbrian Metallurgical Coal Project consists of a new underground coal mine located on a brownfield site in the South West of Whitehaven in West Cumbria.

Once construction of the mine is completed and the project starts operations, the company plans to extract and process around 2.7 million tonnes of metallurgical coal per year, focused on supplying British and European steel-making plants, which currently import around 60 million tonnes every year from US, Canada, Russia and Australia.

The company plans to extract coking coal, which is also known as metallurgical coal, from beneath the Irish Sea.

Coking coal is used exclusively in the manufacture of more than 70% of the world’s steel – it is estimated more than 1.2 billion tonnes of coking coal is used in global steel production around the world every year.

The local authority set out planning conditions that need to be met to enable the company to move forward with the development.

These include a legally binding greenhouse gas assessment commitment and a production end date of no later than 2049 to support the net zero goals.

Mark Kirkbride, CEO of WCM, said: “Woodhouse Colliery will bring significant local benefits to Whitehaven, Copeland and Cumbria in terms of jobs and investment, at a critical time given the impacts of Covid-19 upon employment and economics both locally and nationally.”

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