Opencast coal extraction causes extensive damage to local environments by opening up the land like a quarry, destroying habitats and polluting the air and water. Imported coal, from Russia, Venezuela, Colombia, the USA and Australia, also carries significant environmental and human rights impacts.
As of April 2023, the UK has two opencast coal mines in South Wales, with Ffos-y-fran currently producing coal outside of planning control whilst an application to extend it is pending, and Glan Lash apparently dorment with an extension also pending.
There are two potential sites for new underground coking coal mines. West Cumbria Mining Ltd and NAE want to extract millions of tonnes of coking coal a year from sites in Cumbria and the Scottish borders. The coal would be exported to European steelworks.
Both sites would produce coking coal which is processed into coke and used at steel works which use high carbon blast furnaces. Port Talbot and Scunthorpe steelworks use these methods and are the second and third biggest single source emitters of carbon in the UK.
It is possible to make steel without coal using electric arc furnaces and recycling as well as through direct reduction iron production. New methods to produce steel with hydrogen are being trialled.
Coal-use in electricity declined to its lowest ever level in 2021, thanks to grassroots and NGO campaigning for a total phase-out of coal by 2025 which has now been brought forward to 2024.
There are now only three power stations left open in the UK running occasionally.
Coal is the fuel that contributes most to climate change. Climate change impacts communities in the Global South, who least caused the problem, first and hardest.
The UK is also the financial centre of global coal mining, as many of the world's major mining companies are listed on the London Stock Exchange, as well as coal insurers and financiers.
The UK heads up the international 'Powering Past Coal Alliance' and hosts COP26 in 2021, but has yet to end coal extraction at home or fully end financial support for international coal mining.
On 15th September 2023, The Guardian reported that Tata Steel accepted Government funding to avoid closing its steelworks in Port Talbot, South Wales, by decarbonising it instead – but at a loss of up to 3,000 jobs. The UK Government is providing £500 million, and Tata Steel is expected to provide another £725 million…
Update on coal extraction and use in the UK. The situation with coal production and use in the UK is changing. There is a legal challenges to the proposed West Cumbria coal mine and Aberpergwm extension; and an illegal mine operating in Merthyr Tydfil. Updated stats from the government’s July Digest of UK Energy Statistics.
Update on coal extraction and use in the UK. The situation with coal production and use in the UK is changing. There are no new opencast mines proposed; only one proposed opencast coal extension and one existing opencast extraction site…
Update on coal extraction and use in the UK
TWO Opencast coal mines rejected this summer! Plus: plans for coking coal mines and power station closure dates
Decisions on coal mines still pending despite reduced coal demand & power station closures
The latest on current operating and proposed mines, and coal use in the UK