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Coal Roundup June 2020

Opencast coal

In September 2018 there were 10 operating opencast sites in the UK. Between July and September 2019, 601,599 tonnes of coal were produced.[3] In 2018, 2.6 million tonnes of coal were extracted by opencast mining. An all time low.[1][5]

The mines are:

  • Banks Group: 1) Bradley, County Durham (Banks are trying to extend to extract a further 90 thousand tonnes of coal currently awaiting planning hearing, over 5,000 people have objected. 2) Brenkley Lane, Newcastle/ Northumberland border, and 3) Shotton, Northumberland (stops producing coal February 2020).
  • Banks Group proposed sites: 1) Highthorn (Druridge Bay), Northumberland. This application was approved by Northumberland County Council in 2016. Central government then over turned the decision in 2018. This was appealed and a new decision is still awaited. 2) Dewley Hill, on the outskirts of Newcastle, awaiting a planning hearing.
  • Hargreaves: 1) Field House, Durham (started 2018) and 2) House of Water, East Ayrshire which produces coal for non-power station markets
  • HM Project development: Halton-Lea-Gate, Northumberland
  • Celtic Energy: 1) East Pit, Neath Port Talbot and 2) Nant Helen, Powys (closure December 2021)
  • Merthyr (South Wales): Ffos-y-fran, Merthyr Tydfil
  • One mine with low output in in Derbyshire.

Underground mining

There are currently no underground mines operating of significant size. The two underground mines produced 32,431 tonnes of coal, just 5.1% of the coal extracted in the UK between July and September 2019.[3]

Proposed underground mine West Cumbria Mining were given permission for the land aspect of a new underground coking coal near Whitehaven in 2019. If constructed this would produce coking coal for export for 50 years. The decision is currently subject to a Judicial Review, which was allowed to start in February 2020, into the legitimacy of the permission.

Power stations

In 2018, 11.95 million tonnes of coal were consumed by UK power stations and industry.[1] In the year from the end of January 2019 to the beginning of February 2020 coal supplied the UK’s electricity grid with 5.5 Terawatt hours, amounting to 2.1% of electricity produced.[2]

There are currently five UK power stations, including Fiddlers Ferry which closes in March 2020. In early February the Prime Minister said that the coal phase-out could be brought forward from the end of 2025 to October 2024. This is not soon enough for communities at the front-lines of fossil fuel extraction.

  • Ratcliffe-on-Soar, (Nottinghamshire) Uniper.
  • Drax, (North Yorkshire) Drax (Drax wants to convert the remain two coal units to burn gas, the rest of the power station has converted to biomass).
  • West Burton, (Nottinghamshire) EDF.
  • Kilroot, (County Antrim) Northern Ireland. This is a coal and oil power station, part of the all Ireland electricity grid. It is not covered by the 2024 phase-out date.
  • Fiddlers Ferry, (Nottinghamshire) SSE. (Closes March 2020).

Stockpiles

Total UK coal stock levels increased in 2018 to 5.3 million tonnes, which was 0.2 million tonnes higher than in 2017.[5]

There is already more coal above ground than the UK government predicts will be consumed if coal were phased-out in 2025. We don’t need to extract or import any more. This is especially so, if the phase-out date is brought forward.

Imports

In 2018 imports of coal were 10.1 million tonnes, which was up by 19 per cent compared to 2017.[5] Net imports accounted for 80 per cent of the UK’s supply for both power stations and industry (ignoring stockpile changes and exports).[6][3]

  • 80% of coal consumed in the UK is imported
  • 37% of coal consumed in the UK is imported from Russia, (for power stations and steel making) this is predominantly from the Kuzbass region which Coal Action Network and Fern wrote about in 2018.
  • 28% was imported from the USA (for power stations and steel making)
  • 5% came from Colombia (for power stations) which Coal Action Network visited in 2019 and has written about here
  • 5% came from Australia (for steel making)
  • 5% came from other countries or the origin was lost.[6][3]

Coal imports are falling, but not quick enough. Total coal imports in the third quarter of 2019 were 40% lower than in the same period in 2018. This was the lowest value on record.[7]

Exports

Celtic Energy and Hargreaves are exporting coal.[8] In 2018 exports amounted to 600,000 tonnes.[1] In 2019 this amount has increased each quarter.[9]

Want to help in the fight against coal?

Queries and media contact: info @ coalaction . org .uk (without spaces)

References

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