Where does Banks coal go?
3rd February 2020
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The UK has more coal in stockpiles than power stations will need up to the 2025 coal phase out date – so any coal being dug up to go to power stations is not meeting any national need.

Banks Group, responsible for the Bradley (Pont Valley) mine, are now arguing that coal is needed for steel and cement production, and claim all their Bradley coal is going to this. But the data we are collecting shows otherwise.

Have Banks found industrial buyers for their coal? Have they stopped selling to power stations? Through tracking of truck and train movements, Coal Action Network have gathered evidence to show that Banks coal is going to West Burton Power Station.

Coal goes from Bradley to Port of Blyth…

We monitored coal movement from Bradley and Shotton in July and August of this year.

  • Coal trucks went from Bradley to Banks Shotton opencast coal mine
  • Coal trucks went to a stockpile at Port of Blyth.
  • Coal trucks went from Shotton opencast to North Blyth.
  • No coal trucks were seen going to any industrial users.

We monitored train movements from all major coal ports including Port of Blyth, to power stations, steel works and cement works.

 

…Coal goes from Blyth to West Burton Power Station

According to all publically available data…

West Burton power plant
West Burton Power Station with train line and stockpiles in foreground
  • Coal is being taken from Banks’ North Blyth stockpile to West Burton Power Station.
  • No coal trains went from North Blyth to any steel or cement works.
  • Coal from Ffos-y-fran (Cwmbargoed) opencast in South Wales is being taken to Scunthorpe steel works.

Coal Exports

The UK is not known for exporting coal, but coal exports have increased steadily since 2015 and jumped 13% in 2018-2019, likely due to lack of domestic demand.

We know Banks exported coal in from Port of Blyth in 2016 where its stockpile is: “Having investigated which export markets we might target with it, we believe there are considerable overseas opportunities for us to work towards”

Conculsions

Banks Group is adding to the UK’s inflated stock of the world’s most polluting fossil fuel, which is being burned by a power station that should be closing. Coal mining in the UK is adding to the consumption of coal in spite of the 2025 coal-phase out.

This coal is coming from Bradley opencast coal mine which Banks seeks to expand. With a drying up market for power-station coal and exports going up, there is potential for this coal to be exported and burned elsewhere in the world and Banks are well placed to do it.

Banks cannot claim that the coal from Bradley or their proposed West Bradley exists primarily to meet a national need – instead it is contributing to a national and international climate emergency.

As a profit-driven mining operation, Banks Mining is attempting to prove its continued relevance by disassociating itself from coal-fired power in its public communications, but this is contradicted by the data. In a desperate market, it will sell its coal to whoever will buy it.

Leave a Reply

5 comments

  1. Thank you for this. I did not know that the coal was going to West Burton power station. Do you know when this power station is due to be closed or if pressure needs to be applied to speed up its closure?

  2. Please complete the information given out, trains are running to a well known steel works, they have been running for numerous months.
    What are you doing to stop coal imports?
    There is need for coal, not all coal is the same is the same.
    Guess you would rather increase the carbon footprint and continue to bring in coal from Russia and Australia.
    What are you currently using that is made from steel?
    Better to use locally mined coal and displace imports until we have some joined up thinking on moving towards a low carbon future.

    1. Thanks for your comment. Could you please share where you got the information about trains running to steelworks? Would be very useful to have the complete picture, not all this information is easily accessible. We can only go on what we know, and what we know is that it is going to West Burton.
      Here are some reasons why the argument in favour of local coal for the sake of the climate doesn’t add up: https://www.coalaction.org.uk/2020/02/uk-coal-climate-friendly-is-a-load-of-goaf
      Be interested to hear your thoughts.

  3. Has West Burton Power station put in place any ‘carbon capture’ equipment?

    1. No, the technology isn’t widely used to scale as it hasn’t been developed yet