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West Cumbria Mining to explain plans for ‘net-zero’ underground coal mine

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World Coal,

West Cumbria Mining (WCM) will explain its plans for the world’s first ‘net-zero’ underground coal mine at the forthcoming public inquiry, which is scheduled to commence on 7 September 2021 and to last for four weeks.

The mine will supply the British and European steel industry with locally produced metallurgical coal – an ingredient that is essential for the manufacture of steel via the blast furnace process and for which there is forecast to be a sustained and long-term demand for many decades. Identified as a ‘critical raw material,’ the EU Commission recently confirmed ‘the indispensable role of coking coal during the steel industry’s transition to climate neutrality.’

Amounting to 2 million tpy, British steelmakers currently import all of their metallurgical coal requirements to supply the UK’s two primary steel manufacturers at Scunthorpe and Port Talbot. Europe also relies on metallurgical coal imports of more than 50 million tpy.

As a result, metallurgical coal is being railed and shipped thousands of added miles from overseas mines to customers in the UK and EU. Additional emissions connected with this long-distance production, handling and transportation are thus being ‘offshored’.

Woodhouse Colliery will be net carbon zero for all aspects of the mining process and delivery of the product to UK customers or port for onward shipping to European customers. This has been achieved by combining a series of proven and emerging technologies, including renewable electricity, methane gas capture and elimination, microgrid power generation, green bio-fuel and gold standard carbon offsetting.

The EU Commission expects that ‘global demand for critical raw materials will continue to grow in the coming years’ and independent expert assessments demonstrate that demand for metallurgical coal up to 2050 will remain at very similar levels to current supplies, due to the continuing year on year growth in global steel demand and production. Based on proposed planning conditions Woodhouse Colliery would operate up to 2049.

The Woodhouse Colliery project will create 532 direct and 1618 indirect jobs and deliver new UK exports, which are forecast to reduce the UK balance of trade deficit by around 1.8% annually. It will deliver £130 million in annual spend in Cumbria when the project is in full production. The project is fully compliant with Government climate change policies alongside its wider Industrial Strategy, as a vital part of the steel industry supply chain. The mine would not be reliant upon any public funding and will represent a substantial post Brexit/COVID-19 inward investment into the UK economy.

Mark Kirkbride, CEO of West Cumbria Mining, commented: “We have considered the climate impacts of the project in great detail and implemented significant and world leading techniques to demonstrate that the re-sources industry can also achieve net carbon zero operations.”

“I believe this will become a core part of the social licence to operate resource projects and we fully comply with the Climate Change Committee carbon budgets and proposed net zero test.”

WCM will not be providing any further commentary or information at this time.

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