The highly-skilled operations team at the North East’s biggest surface mine is celebrating a major safety milestone.
The 120-strong team at regional employer Banks Mining’s Shotton surface mine near Cramlington has logged 500,000 operational hours since a ‘lost time’ injury which resulted in an individual requiring time off to recover was recorded on site.
Each member of the Shotton team was presented with a specially-embroidered fleece to mark the milestone.
The Shotton site was one of the first in the UK to achieve The Institute of Quarrying’s PRIME (Professional Recognition In Mineral Extraction) accreditation in recognition of the comprehensive provisions it makes for staff training, leadership and engagement.
Banks Mining also operates its own bespoke licensing and training scheme, which is designed to go beyond existing minerals industry standards by offering operational staff the chance to broaden their knowledge and experience in the safe, responsible and efficient ways of working with new site designs, equipment and techniques.
Christian Adkins, health and safety manager at The Banks Group, says: “Safety is the absolute top priority on all our operational sites, and while we can never become complacent, we’re very pleased that the commitment of our highly-skilled team to working in the safest possible ways has enabled us to reach this latest landmark.
“We operate in a very health and safety conscious environment at all times, and our team is highly skilled in recognising, managing and avoiding potentially hazardous situations.
“We also work to provide the right training and development opportunities for our team, so that we stay fully up-to-date with the latest industry developments and maintain the knowledge required to work in the safest possible ways.”
Family-owned Banks Mining has been working in South East Northumberland for the last four decades, and contributes around £35m to the regional economy every year from the Shotton and nearby Brenkley Lane sites through wages, investments and the local supply chain.
The County-Durham headquartered firm also provides more than £400,000 in annual business rates to Northumberland County Council and Newcastle City Council through the two projects.
Banks Mining is currently awaiting a decision by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire, on whether its planned Highthorn surface mine in Northumberland can go ahead.
The Shotton mine is also adjacent to the world-famous Northumberlandia landform, which was formed by Banks Mining using 1.5 million tonnes of carefully-selected stone, clay and soil taken from the site.
Gavin Styles, managing director at Banks Mining, adds: “This is a highly significant achievement and one of which our expert Shotton team should be very proud.
“The UK still uses coal to meet a range of essential industrial needs, such as the manufacture of steel and cement, but an increasing recent shortfall in domestic supply has meant that this demand has increasingly been met through coal imports from distant locations such as the US, Colombia, Australia and Russia.
“Russian coal import volumes doubled between 2016 and 2018, yet the amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated by just the transportation of these imports is between five and seven times higher than the equivalent figure for transporting coal mined in North East England to our customers in the UK.
“We can both mine and transport the coal and fireclay from our surface mines in North East England to UK customers with significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions than are released from just transporting these coal imports over thousands of miles, while further increasing the UK’s reliance on such imports is off-shoring our environmental responsibilities and will result in increases in global greenhouse gas emissions.
“It surely makes far greater sense to support local skilled British jobs here in North East England, deliver regional environmental and conservation enhancements, avoid these additional greenhouse gas emissions caused by transporting coal imports over vast distances, boost the UK’s balance of payments and meet our nation’s continuing need for coal by using secure domestic reserves rather than further increasing our reliance on imported supplies.
“We have been investing in Northumberland for the last four decades and we are proud of our long track record of creating local employment and supply chain opportunities, as well as of the myriad community and environmental enhancements that our operations have helped to fund right across the region.”