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Opencast coal mine restoration to boost local economy

Published by , Editorial Assistant
World Coal,

The planned restoration of an abandoned East Ayrshire opencast coal mine will provide a timely boost to the region’s economy and revive that part of its landscape.

Work to restore land at the abandoned Spireslack opencast mine will commence in the coming weeks by the same 15 strong team currently working on a similar project at Ponesk opencast mine for the family-owned Banks Mining.


The contract on behalf of East Ayrshire Council and the Scottish Mines Restoration Trust (SMRT) will see continued employment for Banks’ predominantly local workforce, who will move onto the new project following the transformation of the former Ponesk opencast mine.


Work will benefit the local community, with visual and safety improvements of the abandoned surface mine, which has been left derelict following Scottish Coal going into administration in April 2013 - as well as sustaining the local jobs and providing opportunities for local firms to bid for works associated with the main restoration work.


Jim Donnelly, the Operations Director at Banks Mining, is pleased the project at Spireslack will follow on from the contract at Ponesk.


He said: “We will strive to deliver the Spireslack contract in a safe, responsible and efficient manner to produce the same excellent results we have seen at Ponesk with the same highly skilled team.


“The work to be carried out at Spireslack will transform an area which has been a blot on the landscape and a reminder of Scottish Coal’s legacy, into a more natural landform which reflects the natural beauty of the surrounding landform.


“The restoration works have been designed so that once the work has been completed it will provide a basis for a variety of potential future uses including access by the local community.”


The Spireslack project will look to reshape the mounds on site that currently have quite steep sides.  When we have finished the project the land on the site will be more in keeping with the local area and able to be enjoyed by local people.


Over 5.5 million t of rock and soil were re-profiled to restore Ponesk and it’s estimated that somewhere in the region of 1.2 million t will be re-profiled for the restoration of Spireslack.


Economically, the new project will provide a boost to the local economy as Banks Mining will continue to employ the same team of 15 highly-skilled restoration experts who worked diligently and professionally at Ponesk, drawing praise from across the political spectrum as well as from local residents.


The Scottish Mines Restoration Trust (SMRT) – set up as an independent, non-profit making organisation to facilitate the restoration of abandoned opencast coal sites – will work alongside Banks Mining on the Spireslack project. 


SMRT Chairman Professor Russel Griggs OBE, said: “We’re pleased to be moving forward with Banks Mining on the continued restoration of the Spireslack site. We worked in partnership with Banks on the Ponesk site, so we know that there’s a strong team in place that will complete the work to a very high standard.


“Our objective has always been to work with all of the stakeholders involved in an opencast project to find a pragmatic solution to the problems posed by the site. We’re looking forward to progressing with that solution in partnership with Banks.”


David McDowall, Operations Manager at East Ayrshire Council said:

“The continuation of the restoration project at Ponesk into Spireslack will ultimately deliver an alternative restoration solution for the former opencast coal complex making the site safe and enabling the restored land to be utilised for alternative land uses including the proposed Geo park.”


Jim added: “The restoration of abandoned opencast mine sites presents a number of issues, but we take pride in working with local communities to create innovative ways to tackle these problems head-on in order to come up with practical and cost effective solutions.”


Responsible for the successful restoration of 111 mines over the past four decades, Banks Mining delivers technical knowledge and experience in a way that achieves positive results for local communities. This is The Banks Group’s ‘development with care’ approach. 


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