Two of Scotland’s largest abandoned open-pit coal mines have been restored, five years after they were left abandoned when operator Scottish Coal went into administration.
The excavation and re-profiling of more than 6 Mt of rock and soil for the restoration of the Ponesk and Spireslack mines near Muirkirk, in East Ayrshire, took a 15-strong, predominantly local team from Banks Mining just over two years to complete.
New footpaths and tracks have been created to provide improved public access to the site. As a result of the team’s work, what was a huge ugly scar on the landscape of the Muirkirk/Glenbuck valley has been transformed and now sits in sympathy with the wider landscape of the area – safely accessible to local people, Banks Mining said.
Banks is a is a major coal producer in the UK, having successfully operated and restored over 111 surface mines over 42 years. For this project, it was working on behalf of East Ayrshire Council and the non-profit organisation Scottish Mines Restoration Trust (SMRT).
Michael Keane, Head of Planning and Economic Development at East Ayrshire Council, said: “We are making steady progress in terms of restoration across all of the remaining open-cast sites, and the completion of work at Ponesk/Spireslack is welcome news. Given the scale of the works required to be undertaken, Banks Mining have done a commendable job in creating a landscape which over time will develop in keeping with its surroundings. Our primary objective is to ensure these sites are secured and made safe for the public to access, and this has been achieved.”
Jim Donnelly, operations director at Banks Mining, said: “Looking at the site now you’d be hard pushed to envisage how it was when we took it on. It has taken an extraordinary effort by our highly experienced team to take an unsightly derelict surface mine that had been an eyesore for many years and transform it into what we see today.”