Coal round-up February 2020

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]

Opencast coal In September 2018 there are 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:

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 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.

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]

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]

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

References