Cumbria’s New Coal Mine

By Paul Homewood


While Roger Harrabin has been campaigning against the new Cumbria coal mine, Woodhouse Colliery, there has been a distinct absence of information about the project itself from the BBC, which I am now putting right:


Proposed Woodhouse Colliery – Artist’s Impression

Cumbria is an area rich in mining history, and since 2014 West Cumbria Mining has been developing plans for the creation of a state of the art  underground metallurgical coal mine, off the coast near Whitehaven in West Cumbria to supply the UK and European steel-making industry, which, in 2019, imported 52 million tonnes of seaborne metallurgical coal from the United States of America, Australia, Russia and Columbia.

The buildings have been carefully designed to look very different to historical mine sites being low level, buried or visually screened to reduce impacts to an absolute minimum. The domed design of the fully enclosed structures is a modern and innovative approach designed to copy the curves of the hills in the surrounding area with a view to blending in once screening has matured.

The coal will be processed in a plant which is a ‘building within a building’ to further minimise noise, dust and light impacts. This preparation plant will include covered storage of coal from the mine as well as coal product after washing.

All mining waste will be disposed of underground. The only mains water required will be for office and canteen use, with all the water used for processing to be supplied from recycling.

Coal will be transported by underground conveyer to the nearby rail loading facility, where it will be transported by rail to Redcar Bulk Terminal or direct to UK steelworks. No coal will be moved by road.

The mining itself will be largely mechanised and computer controlled, making the mine a much cleaner and safer environment than a traditional mine.


The mine is expected to extract and process up to 3.1 million tonnes a year of high grade coking coal, currently essential for steelmaking. Extensive work by specialist geologists and engineers has established that the new colliery will be able to extract high quality coking coal, with very low ash and phosphorous levels, equivalent to US High Volatile ‘A’ coal.

There are few sources of coking coal around the world, and forecast suggest that steel demand will continue to grow globally.



Currently the UK and Europe import 16.4 Mt of coking coal from the US. It is estimated that the new Cumbria mine will save 20,000 tonnes of CO2 pa in avoided shipping emissions.

The new colliery will create around 500 new jobs, plus many more indirectly. The wider economic benefits will also be significant:



Unsurprisingly then the scheme has the full support of the local council and community.


February 5, 2021 at 11:48AM

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