In 2018, 11.95 million tonnes of coal were consumed by UK power stations and industry. 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.
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. In 2018, 2.6 million tonnes of coal were extracted by opencast mining. An all time low.
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
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.
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.
Imports In 2018 imports of coal were 10.1 million tonnes, which was up by 19 per cent compared to 2017. Net imports accounted for 80 per cent of the UK’s supply for both power stations and industry (ignoring stockpile changes and exports).