New colliery to mine coal seam worth £200m

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People are being invited to buy shares in a new colliery which is expected to start mining in September.

New Crofton Co-Op Colliery is expected to mine around 200,000 tonnes of coal a year, creating 50 jobs and supplying to the power industry.

The £11.5m mine is being set up as a workers’ co-operative which will see profits re-invested into social enterprises.

It is being backed with a community share issue which the Coalfield Community Investment Society Ltd (CCIS), set up to raise funds for the mine, hopes will raise £1m by the end of June.

CCIS Director Toby Wright said: “The company will be owned by workers.

“Profits will be shared between workers and re-invested into other co-operative businesses.

“We wanted to do a community share issue because people were asking us how they could get involved and support the project.”

The Crofton colliery will be a drift mine which will use sloping tunnels to extract coal from shallow seams.

The drift mining technique has lower costs than traditional deep mines, which have vertical shafts sunk hundreds of metres below the ground.

Mr Wright said: “It’s an underground mine, not an opencast.

“Drift mines access shallow coal seams down to a maximum of 150 metres.”

The Crofton mine is expected to be extract 4.9m tonnes of coal over the next 20 years from a seam worth around £200m.

Around a third of domestic energy in the UK is still generated by coal, despite moves to use more forms of renewable energy.

Mr Wright said: “We are not against renewable energy and one day coal will run out.

“But none of the renewables are coming on stream fast enough, and we are closing some nuclear reactors sooner than we expected.”

Mr Wright hoped that carbon capture and storage (CCS), a process for capturing carbon dioxide from burning coal before it enters the atmosphere, would be developed for UK electricity generation.

A CCS project at Drax Power Station, near Selby, has been backed with money from the European Union.

Mr Wright said: “For me that has to be the way forward, not just for the UK but globally.”

The Crofton mine is preparing to open after the government refused to provide funding to save Kellingley Colliery, which employs 700 people.

The pit near Knottingley is expected to close by the end of the year, along with Thorseby Colliery in Nottinghamshire.

Kellingley and Thoresby will be shut down at a time when the UK is still importing most of its coal for energy production from abroad.

Because coal is traded in dollars, a strong pound in relation to other currencies has made foreign imports cheaper.

But Mr Wright said the Crofton mine would still be profitable.

He added: “I think we’ll be burning coal at power stations for more than 20 years.”