Support local campaign group resist Bedwas coal mine

A tiny bit of background...

Mining company, ERI Ltd, is applying to mine nearly half a million tonnes of coal from two coal tips dumped in Caerphilly, South Wales by the same mining industry last time it operated in the area. The company claims it’ll use some of its profits from coal sales to remediate the two tips afterwards. But this is just to greenwash its mining application as a ‘remediation project’—a ploy with a long history in South Wales. Nobody’s buying it; companies cut and run when the profit dries up, with over 300 coal tips abandoned in South Wales to prove it. Moreover, the two coal tips that would be mined are not considered in danger of slipping, and ERI Ltd doesn’t want to touch the most worrying coal tips nearest residents in Bedwas as those aren’t profitable or are on private land.

Can you help the local resistance?

A local campaign has sprung up to fight for a better alternative than another coal mine. Friends of Sirhowy Valley Country Park needs your help to fund:

  • Independent professional services, such as from legal and environmental specialists, to support the group with gathering the evidence needed to argue and object to the proposal as it stands;
  • Purchasing and installing wildlife cameras to capture evidence of animals and creatures that live in the country park;
  • Creating and printing information leaflets, posters, etc. to ensure as many people as possible are aware of the proposal and what it means for them;
  • Hiring facilities to hold events to give updates and share information with the community;
  • Any other activities deemed necessary by the sub-committee to support the case against the proposal.
  • Any surplus funds will be used to support the continuation of the group for the purpose of improving the country park.

Published: 18. 04. 2024

Proposed Bedwas coal tips mine: key facts and impacts

Mining company, ERI Ltd, is applying to mine nearly half a million tonnes of coal from two coal tips dumped in Caerphilly, South Wales, by the mining industry last time it operated in the area. It's vital we stop this shameless attempt to exploit the mess left behind by the mining industry to justify yet more mining. If the coal tip mining were to go ahead, it would:

  • Carry around 468,000 tonnes of coal off the site for sale
  • Inflict on local communities around 36 HGVs/day driving to and from the tips
  • Drive further climate chaos by over 1.3 MILLION tonnes of CO2
  • Devastate again the local ecology that’s slowly recovering around the tips
  • Endanger the beautiful Sirhowy Valley Country Park bordering one of the tips
  • Spread dust and noise pollution
  • Open the floodgates to mining the other 300 coal tips in communities across South Wales that deserve a safe environment without enduring another wave of mining to get it, and fuelling our climate chaos by many millions of tonnes of CO2.
  • Build a new section of haul road 575m long and 6m wide cut into the rock, and widen the existing forest track - possibly at the loss of trees bordering the road.
  • Be operational initially for around 7 years (but this is often extended later)
  • Work on site would start at 6am and continuing into the night until 10pm (16 hours/day, 15 hours every Saturday, and only Sunday without works) for 6-9 months (but this is may be extended, as is common for projects like this)
Published: 17. 04. 2024

Ffos-y-fran opencast coal mine quietly becomes a massive reservoir

Local residents kept in the dark

Council passive as company sabotages agreed restoration plan

Key to the current restoration plan (agreed in 2007) was the return of the huge overburden mounds into the void that were created when the void was excavated to reach the coal. Every day the void fills with water, though, makes returning these overburden mounds to the void more expensive and logistically difficult, as that water would need to be drained first. This is likely to be the intention—Merthyr (South Wales) Ltd is refusing to fulfil its legal obligation to fund the restoration plan, so it’s looking to cut corners. Avoiding shifting millions of tonnes of overburden back into the void is a large corner to cut. Removing the pumps, that have been draining water from the void for the past 15 years, and taking months to apply to the Council for a budget restoration deal means that Councillors would have little choice but to rubber-stamp approval. The Council have admitted this would affect the "viability" of the restoration plan.

Council makes no move to inform inhabitants of accumulating reservoir nearby, with no safety checks yet made

Coal Action Network’s drone footage on Monday 11th March raised the alarm bell about the rising water levels. With this footage, a local resident informed Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council of the rising water levels, only to be told that the Council was already aware of it, and that Merthyr (South Wales) Ltd had removed the pumps with no intention of reinstating them. Yet the Council made not move to inform any residents living close to the mine of the massive build up of water above their heads. The Council’s oversight of 16 months of illegal coal mining and now this intentional derailment of the current restoration plan is a further dereliction of its responsibility to the safety and wellbeing of town inhabitants. The Council has failed to hold Merthyr (South Wales) Ltd to account for its many transgressions over the past 18 months of illegal coal mining, with baffling impotence. Merthyr (South Wales) Ltd’s most recent action to remove pumps from the void is directly breaking the enforcement notice served to it by Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, but we won’t hold our breath waiting for the Council to do anything about that…

Find out more about the Ffos-y-fran opencast coal mine...

Sign our petition for its proper restoration.

Published: 27. 03. 2024

Bedwas coal tip: a new frontier for coal in South Wales?

Key project details

Background and key figures

'Energy Recovery Investments Ltd' is proprosing to extract coal from large coal tips created by the Bedwas Colliery (1913 - 1985) in Bedwas, Caerphilly, South Wales over an operational period of 7 years (but this is often extended later). The company claims that it would use some of the sales of the coal to restore those coal tips afterwards. Based on historical estimates, the total volume of the Tips is approximately 5,000,000m³ which equates to around 8,500,000 tonnes of colliery spoil. The company claims that it expects to haul 468,000 tonnes of coal off the site via 20-tonne heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), driving further climate chaos by over 1.3 MILLION tonnes of CO2.

Tip dangers

The Tips are classified as Category D which is defined as “A tip with the potential to impact public safety, to be inspected at least twice a year.”. The main risks associated with Bedwas are understood to be risk of tip fire and contamination of local watercourses (including Rhymney River), with land stability being of a lesser concern.

Potential coal destinations

'Energy Recovery Investments Ltd' has not disclosed what proportions of coal will be sold to which market but does indicate "ERI’s proposal is to sell on these stockpiles of coal to heavy industry, the cement manufacturing industry and potentially energy production industry...", and elsewhere cite the steel sector and brickworks as potential customers.

Roads, HGVs, and 16-hour days

The company would need to build a new section of haul road 575m long and 6m wide cut into the rock, and widen the existing forest track - possibly at the loss of trees bordering the road.  It would involve works on setting up the site starting at 6am and continuing into the night until 10pm (16 hours/day, 15 hours every Saturday, and only Sunday without works) for 6-9 months (but this is likely to be extended, as is common for projects like this). Outside of these hours, maintanence works could still occur, according to the company. The company estimates an average of 90 hauls by HGVs per week to occur over the seven years operational period. This is equivalent approximately to 18-20 hauls HGVs going to and from the site every day.

On a mobile? Check out our YouTube short of the Bedwas Tips for mobile.

Corporate spin

The coal tips lie above a coal seam, which the company claims it would coincidentally have to dig into to create 'lagoons' for processing the coal from the coal tips. That's right, Energy Recovery Investments Ltd claims it needs to mine the coal in the seam, creating a further coal tip, in order to mine the coal in the coal tips already created. The company is trying to rebrand the coal mined from the tips and from digging the lagoons, as 'reclaimed' and 'incidental' coal respectively, in an attempt to get around Welsh Government policies against further coal extraction.

Energy Recovery Investments Ltd creates a new name for the coal it proposes to mine: "Reduced Carbon Coal" - a name based on the claim it could displace coal imported with the associated travel miles. This is an old argument that has been debunked many times. See our video with Economics expert, Prof. Paul Ekins or our myth-buster.

The company is so keen to distance this project from a coal mine, it has gone into greenwash overdrive - refusing to even call a coal washery by its normal name, and instead rebranding it as a "beneficiation/processing plant.

With absolutely no evidence or calculations, Energy Recovery Investments Ltd makes the outlandish claim in its planning statement that any, eventual and additional, 'carbon sink' like properties of the site after operations have finally ceased may offset the processing and extraction of the coal, transport by deisel HGVs, and end use.

Energy Recovery Investments Ltd presents the mining of coal as "a beneficial by-product of the tip reclamation process". It's the very objective of this company to generate a profit for itself from the mining of the coal tips - it is very far from being a by-product.

Energy Recovery Investments Ltd claims that a proportion of its coal will be used at steelworks, necessary for green infrastructure - a common argument which is even less true today than it was previously, as both virgin steelworks in the UK converts to using processes for producing steel from scrap that doesn't rely on coal inputs, ending the UK steel market for coal.

The company behind the proposal unmasked

Energy Recovery Investments Ltd is a small company with assets valued at £114,000 in its 2022 annual financial accounts on Companies House – but only £9,000 cash assets. This is concerning as there would be limited scope to recover damages if mistakes are made or the company refuses to remediate the coal tips after extracting profitable coal from them.

The company was registered in 2008 and “the principle activity of the company is the recovery of coal from redundant coal tip sites”. But since 2012, the company has idled with zero staff until employing just 2 staff a decade later in 2022. Energy Recovery Investments Ltd has only operated one other site, in 2008, Six Bells and Vivien Tips near Abertillery, South Wales - which it extracted 260,000 tonnes of coal from over 2.5 years, by subsequently getting permission to opencast coal mine one end of the site.

Despite all its efforts to distance itself from coal mining, Energybuild Ltd (the coal mining company at Aberpergwm) has previously been a major shareholder in Energy Recovery Investments Ltd.

PPM Holdings Limited – holding company of ERI Ltd

ERI Ltd is the wholly owned subsidiary of PPM Holdings Limited, a company incorporated in just 2022 with no published company accounts and currently registered as a ‘non-trading company’. The current Director of PPM Holdings Limited, Sian Thomas, was previously Director of Green Steel Works Ltd, which deals with ‘Remediation activities and other waste management services’ and is the official office address for Energy Recovery Investments Ltd. This kind of complicated and confusing corporate structure is typical of mining companies, and has been used in the past to evade corporate accountability. The other Director of PPM Holdings Limited is Mark Harvey, is a Director of 6 companies dealing with mineral waste disposal and storage, and real estate.

Learning from Ffos-y-fran

This proposal has strong similarities with the sprawling Ffos-y-fran opencast coal mine. The sale of the coal from this mine was to pay for the restoration of a neglected hill in Merthyr Tydfil to the extent the coal mine was even branded as the "Ffos Y Fran Land Reclamation Scheme". Yet, the profits from 16 years of coal mining has been put of reach, and the local Council faces up to £120 million shortfall to pay for the much greater restoration works now needed. We don't want Bedwas to become the next Ffos-y-fran disaster.

A dangerous precedent

With over 300 at-risk coal tips registered across South Wales, and financial shortcomings to pay for their remediation, the concern is that the Bedwas coal tip is a testing ground for remediating the remaining coal tips. This would be disasterous for our climate and represent total contempt for the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act. The company has presented a planning statement littered with the tired justifications of mining companies. Stay tuned as we ask for your help in this campaign.

Published 26. 02. 2024 Updated 18.03.2024

Charges dropped for activists blocking Ffos-y-fran coal mine

XR press release:

The Crown Prosecution Service has dropped all charges against the four Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists who blockaded the entrance to the UK’s largest open-cast coal mine, last summer with a pink boat.

While removing the immediate burden of legal confrontation for the defendants, the decision has left a “crater of unfinished business” in the fight for climate justice and accountability for local residents..

“The action was always designed to have a much deeper impact beyond the immediate disruption with a pink boat,” explained Liz Pendleton, one of the four defendants who occupied the site for over 24 hours in July 2023. “It was designed to expose the alleged illegal activities and environmental negligence of the mining operation, in particular, its continued operation beyond permitted planning conditions and contradictory and misleading financial statements which may well constitute fraud.”

The Ffos-Y-Fran mine in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales had been operating without a licence for almost ten months when XR activists took direct action.

“By denying us our day in court the CPS has denied us the opportunity to shine a light on this potentially illegal and criminal operation,” said Liz.

The legal proceedings revealed a shocking lack of cooperation from the mine, including failure to provide basic operational logs, communications between the mine and governmental bodies, and internal documents relating to the financial and environmental management of the mine's operations. This critical information would have shed light on the legal position of the operation and whether funds had been set aside for environmental restoration - which was a condition for the getting the go ahead in the face of overwhelming local opposition. The defendants were also confident this would have led to their acquittal.

The dropping of the case also casts doubt on the legitimacy of the arrests, as in the case of aggravated trespass the police can clearly be seen acting in the interests of corporate bodies who then fail to prove that they themselves were carrying out lawful activities.

The discontinuation of charges is a testament to the strength of the activists case and the shaky foundation upon which the mine's operations stood, explained Raj Chada from Hodge Jones & Allen, representing the defendants:

“In seeking disclosure from the CPS, we highlighted the need for transparency on several critical points. Our requests were aimed at uncovering potential evidence of the mine operating beyond legal scrutiny, which raises concerns about the legality of its operations. The CPS's inability to meet these disclosure obligations casts a shadow over the proceedings and suggests that the depth of the mine's legal and environmental mismanagement may be greater than previously understood.”

For over a decade and a half, the Ffos-Y-Fran mine has been a symbol of the environmental and social challenges that face communities at the ‘coal face’ of climate degradation. The abrupt end to this case marks not a clear-cut victory but a complex milestone in the ongoing struggle. While it spares the defendants the strain of a continuing court battle - already exceeding seven months in duration - it denies the platform to publicly expose the depth of negligence and alleged fraud by the mine's operators, Merthyr (South Wales) Ltd., including their failure to fulfil obligations towards land reparations and the creation of green jobs.

Speaking upon hearing the news, local resident and defendant Marcus Bailie commented: “Our fight was not just against the physical act of coal extraction but against disregard for the land's future and the community's well-being. The piles of coal and the colossal scar on the landscape left behind serve as stark reminders of the environmental impact that has yet to be addressed. The real victory would have been to hold those responsible to account in a public forum, forcing a reckoning with the consequences of their actions.” Marcus went on to say, “We’re not the criminals here!”

Chris and Alyson Austin, residents of Merthyr Tydfil who have been campaigning for years for the mine to be closed said: “We feel angry and betrayed about the waste-land they have left behind.”

The bittersweet outcome underscores the resilience and dedication of activists and the broader environmental movement. It also highlights the complexities of seeking justice in a system where procedural technicalities can overshadow substantive issues. The fight for the Ffos-Y-Fran mine was never just about legal vindication; it was about bringing to light the injustices inflicted upon nature and communities - and campaigners promise, it won’t end here.

For further information, quotes, or to arrange interviews, please contact: | +44(0)7756136396

Published: 26. 02. 2024

Coal clings on in Aberpergwm appeal

Citing different grounds to the High Court, the Court of Appeal has nevertheless found against our appeal. The Court of Appeal judges disagreed with the judge in the High Court, and decided that current statute limits Welsh Ministers to only deciding whether a new conditional licence may be issued—rather than deciding at the stage that a conditional licence is turned into a full licence, which is what allows coal mining to begin. This judgement is disappointing, and runs contrary to the careful analysis of the High Court judge and the position expressed by the Coal Authority and the UK Government. We think there are grounds for a potential challenge to the judgement and we are receiving advice from our legal team on our next actions.

Published 26. 02. 2024

Welsh position on a coal ban needs to change

A response from the Welsh Climate Change Minister

Open letter to the Welsh Climate Change Minister... and their reply in full

(Click for PDF)

Open letter

Minister's reply


On 23 October 2023, over 30 Wales-based NGOs, businesses, and community groups signed an open letter to Wales’ Climate Change Minister, Julie James, calling for the Welsh Government to ban coal mining once and for all (sent by Climate Cymru). On 10th January 2024, Julie James wrote back—but claims a ban isn’t needed, even though 1.6 million tonnes of CO2 could have been prevented since 2022 if the Welsh Government had adopted a ban. That failure has caused 362 additional deaths from climate change related causes. Julie James’ claims just don’t stack up against those lives lost. Here’s why:

What the Minister didn’t respond to

The open letter to Julie James highlighted that an issue with the current policy is that it is riddled with caveats and exceptions. Carmarthenshire County Council’s Planning Officer even wrote in September 2023 that it was “difficult to know for certain how to interpret the coal policy”. Julie James failed to respond to this point entirely. A clear ban would remove the existing ambiguity that makes the current policy challenging to apply.

Julie James also did not respond to our point that Merthyr (South Wales) Ltd would not have been able to mine 500,000 tonnes of coal from Ffos-y-fran over the past 1.5 years if there was a clear ban on coal mining. The mining company exploited the exceptions in existing policies to secure a de facto extension. To protect against this climate assault recurring by closing the loopholes, a clear coal ban is needed now.

In the open letter to Julie James, it’s stated “A coal mine ban can be drafted is such a way that allows for the safe winding down of existing coal mines, and Coal Authority access to fulfil its regulatory duties”. That didn’t stop Julie James trying to use that against a ban anyway: “we also have a duty to manage the safe closure and restoration of existing and historic mining infrastructure”. Julie James accompanies this with a reason that’s even more bizarre: “The incidental extraction of limited coal may also be required during the construction of infrastructure projects”. Those wouldn’t be coal mines so wouldn’t fall under a ban—the Coal Authority even licences this differently as an ‘incidental coal agreement’. The burden and hazards of historic mines across Wales would diminish under a coal ban, rather than risk being added to—a very real risk in light of Ffos-y-fran.

The Minister's presumptions against a coal mine ban

Julie James says “…coal licences may be needed in wholly exceptional circumstances and each application will be decided on its own merits”. But this creates exactly the problem that Julie James lamented in her letter in October 2011 to then Minister for BEIS Kwasi Kwarteng: "both the developer and the Coal Authority committing significant resources respectively to preparing and determining applications... before Welsh policy can properly be applied”. A coal ban would end the pipeline of applications, and the private and public funds they waste.

Julie James twice hails “the presumption being against extraction” in current policies. We hope it’s not presumptuous to argue for a commitment stronger than a ‘presumption’ in the face of catastrophic climate change. What justification could opening a new coal mine have in the face of the 362 lives that’ll be cut short due to the Welsh Government’s refusal to ban coal mines up until now? Climate vandalism over the past year shows nothing short of a ban on coal mining can protect the lives and ecosystems at stake.

Finally, Julie James concludes her letter by claiming the “Welsh Government has adopted and implemented the strongest policy opposition to coal extraction across the UK Governments”. Even if that were true, the Welsh Government clearly needs to go further given current policies have failed to prevent 1.6 million tonnes of avoidable CO2 in the past 1.5 years. But it’s also not true. Julie James’ claim to be leading on a progressive coal policy is based on her comparison to a similar one set out in the Scottish Parliament back in November 2021. She ignores the de facto ban that the Scottish Government more recently introduced in October 2022—as referenced in the open letter to Julie James. If Julie James actually wants the Welsh Government to boast the strongest policy opposition to coal mining, she’ll have to be bolder by committing to a ban on coal mining in Wales.

Proposed Whitehaven coal mine campaign timeline

Main events

2014 Company directors buy Riverside Energy and change the name to West Cumbria Mining Ltd ( West Cumbria Mining Ltd).

2015 Cumbria County Council and  West Cumbria Mining Ltd hold internal discussions.

2016 Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping Report is finalised.

2017 Initial planning application is submitted.

2017 September. First demonstration against the coal mine - organised by Radiation Free Lakeland

2018 Major changes to the application are made and a new Environmental Statement submitted.

2019 March. Cumbria County Council planning committee holds hearing for the Whitehaven coal mine application, and approves it “subject to S106 legal agreement".

2019 April. Call in Request to Rt Hon James Brokenshire Secretary of State from Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign) around potential nuclear impacts of the proposal.

2019 June. A call-in request by SLACC is refused by Secretary of State (Secretary of State).

2019 October. Cumbria County Council planning committee holds second hearing and again approves the Whitehaven coal mine application “subject to S106 legal agreement".

2019 Judicial review launched by Leigh Day solicitors on behalf of Radiation Free Lakeland.

2020 May. Cumbria County Council planning committee sets aside (withdraws) previous “consent subject to S106”.

2020 June.  West Cumbria Mining Ltd submits revised application (claiming to no longer mine and sell the high sulphur “middlings” coal in the area).

2020 October. Cumbria County Council planning committee holds third hearing for the Whitehaven coal mine application, and again approves it “approval subject to S106 legal agreement".

2021 January. SLACC issue second request for the Secretary of State to call-in  West Cumbria Mining Ltd’s application.

2021 February. Cumbria County Council suspended approval decision because Climate Change Committee recommended the end of coking coal use by 2035.

2021 February. CAN petition with 110,000+ signatures is submitted to the UK Government for the Secretary of State to call in the mining application.

2021 March. SLACC launches judicial review against the Secretary of State’s failure to call in  West Cumbria Mining Ltd’s application.

2021 March.  West Cumbria Mining Ltd launches judicial review against Cumbria County Council and in opposition to SLACC’s judicial review of the Secretary of State.

2021 Secretary of State finally agrees to call in  West Cumbria Mining Ltd’s application and to hold a Public Inquiry into it.

2021 September. 11 groups commit to taking direct action to stop the West Cumbria coal mine if government approves it.

2021 September.  West Cumbria Mining Ltd make major change just ahead of Public Inquiry - tunnelling under the ancient woodlands.

2021 September. Public Inquiry is held.

2021 September. On the first day of the Public Inquiry, around 70 people gather outside the site of the prospective Whitehaven coal mine, and outside the Secretary of State’s office, Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government.

2022 December. Michael Gove publishes decision to grant planning permission to the Whitehaven coal mine.

2022 December. Twitter storm erupts with the message “We reject the Whitehaven coal mine, #StopCoal @luhc @CoalActionUK”.

2022 December. Protests at the site and in other parts of Cumbria against the approval. At the site they continue monthly throughout 2023.

2022 December. 5 Santas deliver sacks of dirty ‘coal’ to the Secretary of State at the Department of Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities as he is on the (very) naughty list for approving the Whitehaven coal mine.

2023 Jan. SLACC and FOE request permission to legally challenge the Secretary of State’s decision in a Statutory Review.

2023 April. High Court refuse permission to appeal.

2023 April. FOE and SLACC apply for ‘Renewal’—similar to an appeal, which is granted.

2023 May. Legal challenges against the governmental decision are approved for SLACC and Friends of the Earth for a combined hearing. Originally due to be heard in October 2023, but delayed to await the outcome of a linked case, relating to oil extraction in Surrey.

2023 August. 25 large banners opposing the proposed new coal mine near Whitehaven with the words ‘NO TIME for a COAL MINE’ were unveiled along all the roads entering Cumbria on the same day.

2023 August. Earth First! Gathering occupied the site of the proposed Whitehaven coal mine for 5 days, with around 150 attendees, ran workshops on all things environmental and engaged with many local residents over the days.

2023 September. Global Day of Action against Fossil Fuels includes demonstrations against Lloyds of London Insurance companies which fail to rule out insuring the project.

Published: 28. 12. 2023

Unite to fight for a just steel transition


Port Talbot Steelworks in South Wales is the largest producer of virgin steel in the UK. Along with British Steel steelworks in Scunthorpe, Port Talbot steelworks is expected to shut down its blast furnaces in 2024 and build a 3 million tonne (MT) electric arc furnace (EAF) to recycle scrap steel. This is a measure to reduce the steelworks CO2 footprint by cutting out coal used in traditional blast furnaces in virgin steelmaking.

Workers' Plan

In A workers’ plan for Port Talbot, the UNITE workers’ union points out “The government's current proposal is to give a handout to Tata [Port Talbot Steelworks], without asking for any conditions to protect jobs.” On 15th September 2023, this handout was confirmed at £500 million with expected job losses up to 3,000. The deal was reached without meaningful union or worker involvement, despite those workers facing the biggest upheaval at the steelworks.

No steel transition without justice transition

We share the Unite union’s conviction that the low-carbon transition at Port Talbot Steelworks can, and must, be a just transition. In its workers’ plan, Unite point out that only 60% of UK steel demand is met by domestic production, and that the UK imports 10 out of 17 main steel products. By 2035 demand for green steel could rise as high as 19.4MT, according to Unite. In 2022, the UK produced 6MT of steel. These figures underpin Unite’s case for expanding EAFs at Port Talbot to 6MT-9MT, beyond the current conversion plans of a 3MT EAF.

Unite’s proposed expansion—together with scrap steel processing jobs to improve scrap input quality—would retain, or increase, jobs at the site of Port Talbot steelworks. Unite states that diverting the amount of scrap the UK exports each year would provide sufficient quantities of scrap steel to expand the EAF capacity for Britain’s green steel sector.

Beyond EAFs... for a £billion less than the Track and Trace app

Beyond EAFs, Unite is pushing the UK Government to invest in, and develop, emerging technologies like Hydrogen Direct Reduced Iron (HDRI) to produce virgin steel. The large amounts of electricity needed to support that could, according to Unite, be produced sustainably by constructing a floating windfarm just off the coast of Port Talbot, which it claims has suitable topography. This could safeguard more jobs and contribute to reducing the carbon footprint of other carbon intensive industries, such as cement and ammonia production.

Unite estimates that HDRI roll-out would require a public investment of around £1 billion per year over the next 12 years. That may sound like a lot but, in total, that amounts to a billion less than the widely derided Test and Trace app cost in its first year alone.

Our position

CAN advocates for a variety of strategies to meet UK steel demand into the future, including efficiency, recycling, technology, and more selective production. But where there remains a demand gap, production should be coal-free and utilise a circular economy based on safer, desirable, and dignified jobs within the UK. We also believe it’s vital that the impacts of steel production are not just considered at the point where iron or scrap arrives at steelworks.

Upstream extractive industries and scrap steel sorting and processing underpin, and are impacted by, changes at steelworks. The environmental and economic consequences for these upstream sectors means mine workers and community members living on the frontlines of iron and coal extraction, and the consequences of climate change, also need to be part of the conversation, as stakeholders, for a truly just transition.

CAN agrees with the Unite union on the following demands:

  1. Change procurement rules to let UK public contracts use 100% UK steel. This alone can create 8,000 jobs.
  2. Public investment for a Steelworkers’ Transition Plan with NO loss of jobs. Phased workers' transition to green steel. The investment needed is £1 billion per year over 12 years and it will pay for itself with increased revenue.
  3. Tackle energy prices. Bring in electricity price caps and public ownership of the grid to make our steel even more competitive.
  4. Take a stake. No more money for nothing. Public investment for steel must come with solid job guarantees.
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Published: 18. 12. 2023

Ffos-y-fran, the UK's last opencast coal mine finally shut - we're not celebrating

We're not celebrating...

We're not celebrating the purported end of coal mining at Ffos-y-fran in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales today. Because the abject failure of Merthyr County Borough Council to stop the past 15 months of illegal coal mining at Ffos-y-fran has resulted in:

  • Over 500,000 tonnes of illegal coal
  • Over 1.6 million tonnes of CO2
  • 362 additional deaths from climate change related causes
  • Dust & noise for locals
  • No agreement to fund restoration works

The Welsh Government, rather than stepping in to issue a stop notice to prevent the illegal coal mining, even transported the illegal along rail lines owned by the Welsh Government to customers...and continue to do so. The coal company has amassed a huge stockpile of coal at the rail terminal to continue selling off after 30th November - largely made possible by the Welsh Goverment's rail lines.

The Welsh Government's policies against coal mining are obviously not strong enough - why won't the Welsh Government take its place next to Scotland in issuing a clear ban on coal mining?

Job losses

There are around 150 workers at Ffos-y-fran who face redundancy today. Merthyr (South Wales) Ltd has let workers down. The company had many years of knowing when planning permission expired, and to retrain and support workers to find work in more sustainable industries for when that happens... but hasn't. To add insult to this injury, the company further let workers down by refusing to pay for the restoration that it's legally obliged to, and which would have provided many workers with years of work to come on site, in the green sector of nature restoration.


The final restoration plan promised to local residents since 2007 now hangs in the balance as the mining company makes off with bumper profits from both legal and illegal coal mining, but refuses to meet its obligation to pay for the restoration. It's siphoned MILLIONS of pounds of profits into related companies, and neither the Council nor the Welsh Government seems intent to challenge that. Local residents and the Welsh Government's own report warned the Welsh Government and Local Council nearly a decade ago of this exact risk - why wasn't that acted on? Sign our petition to demand the Welsh Government commits to delivering:

  1. a public inquiry into this debacle
  2. the original restoration promised in 2007
  3. the outright ban on coal mining in Wales that's clearly needed

We obtained a letter from the Coal Authority to the Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, in which the Chief Executive of the Coal Authority is scathingly critical of inaction within the Council and their handling of Ffos-y-fran. The Council must be held to account for its failings.

Protest charges

Extinction Rebellion Cymru protestors blockaded Ffos-y-fran illegal operation for over 24 hours - which is 24 hours longer than Merthyr County Borough Council managed to. Despite the illegal activities of Merthyr (South Wales) Ltd, its owner David Lewis has been left untouched. On the other hand, XR protestors were arrested, held in police cells, and have court hearings about for preventing illegal coal mining. Please donate to their legal fees crowdfunder against this gross injustice.

Published: 30. 11. 2023