West Cumbria Mining says the UK Government has agreed with Cumbria County Council’s decision to approve the planning application for its Woodhouse Colliery project in the northeast of England and has lifted its “holding direction”.
The decision means the company can make plans to commence site works later this year at the metallurgical coal project.
Cumbria County Council (CCC) Development Control and Regulation Committee, in October, resolved again to grant planning approval to West Cumbria Mining (WCM) to develop the project. This was the second such time the council had approved the project, following a formal approval back in March 2019.
Even with this approval in tow, the UK government could have stepped in to further scrutinise CCC’s sign off – a move they decided not to employ.
CEO Mark Kirkbride said on hearing the news: “I am delighted that the holding direction has been lifted following what has been an extremely rigorous planning process. My team and I are now looking forward to concluding planning signoff and then being able to commence preparatory steps to begin site work later this year.”
When the CCC approval was granted, WCM said it anticipated starting site work early in 2021 (before spring), with initial coal production commencing around 18 months from the start of construction.
Once the Woodhouse Colliery moves into the operational phase, the company plans to extract and process around 2.7 Mt/y of metallurgical coal from the operation, focused on supplying UK and international steelmaking plants.
Run-out and pocket extraction will be the chosen mining method at Woodhouse as this is a proven, highly versatile coal mining method that takes advantage of advancements in mining technology to mitigate risks associated with the Cumbrian Coal fields, the company says.
The technique includes the use of bolter miners to develop the gate roads for the panel, with a bolter miner then driving a run-out roadway. A continuous miner subsequently cuts chevron cut pockets into the pillars, while the roof is supported. Shuttle cars continuously move coal from the respective continuous miners to the feeder breaker and, once coal has passed through the feeder breaker, it falls onto the underground conveyor belt to be taken to surface.
Once processed, the coal at Woodhouse will be transported to the railway loading facility (RLF) in the Pow Beck Valley, near Mirehouse, via an underground conveyor buried in a concrete box culvert, which will mitigate any visual, noise or dust issues between the mine site and RLF, in recognition of the sensitivity of the area, WCM says.