UK Coal

From Global Energy Monitor

UK Coal is is Britain's biggest producer of coal and operates a total of 9 mines. On its website UK Coal states that it "produces around 40% of the coal mined in the UK" and that "around 95% of UK Coal’s production is sold to electricity generators, accounting for 19% of coal burnt at power stations in the UK."[1] In its annual report the company describes itself as a "mining, property and power company."[2]


UK Coal -- which was originally known as RJB Mining -- bought the coal assets of British Coal when the public company was privatised in December 1994.[3]

In January 2011, UK Coal announced its total production for 2010 went up to 7.2m tonnes from 7m a year earlier, despite the closure of Welbeck deep mine in May 2010, which left UK Coal with three operating deep mines. UK Coal's deep mines produced 5.8m tonnes in 2010, while 1.5m tonnes was produced from its surface mines. The group has spent £150m over the past two-and-a-half years to move to new seams at Thoresby and Kellingley.[4]

UK Coal announced in April 2011 that they had slumped for a third full-year in a row. UK Coal lost up to 12 percent in share value, the most since July 19, 2010. The net loss for the year ended Dec. 25, 2010 came to 125.1 million pounds, compared with a year-earlier loss of 127.5 million pounds.[5] It was also reported that if UK Coal does not turn a profit in years to come that the company would be forced into bankruptcy, essentially ending all coal mining in the UK.[6]

Coal Mining Operations

As of January 2010, UK Coal has the following three deep mining and six surface mining active coal operations. UK Coal has reserves and resources of over 100 million tonnes at the deep mines and approximately 50 million tonnes at its surface mines.[7]

Existing Underground Mines

As of October 2012 UK Coal lists its current underground coal mines, which produced 5.7 million tonnes of coal in 2011[8], as being:

  • Daw Mill Colliery in Warwickshire; the company states that the mine's reserves "could last until 2028".[9] In 2011 the Daw Hill Colliery produced 2.1 million tonnes of coal.[8]
  • Kellingley Colliery in Yorkshire; the company states that the mining of the 'Beeston' coal seam "will last until at least 2015 after which further reserves will be accessible in the 'Silkstone' coal seam".[9] In 2011 the mine produced 2.3 million tonnes of coal.[8]
  • Thoresby Colliery in Nottinghamshire; the company states that "the mine’s reserves are expected to last until at least 2019".[9] In 2011 the mine produced 1.3 million tonnes of coal.[8]; and
  • Harworth Colliery near Doncaster, in Nottinghamshire. The mine is currently mothballed but the company states that "we are currently exploring the viability of reopening this mine."[9] In its 2012 annual report the company states that "technical visits have also taken place to European mines that have similar geological conditions and it is hoped that a decision will be made by the end of 2012."[8]

Existing Open Cut Mines

As of October 2012, UK Coal lists its currently operating open cut coal mines as being the:[10]

  • Butterwell mine, near Morpeth in Northumberland. The planning permission for the mine is for a total of 1 million tonnes of coal to be extracted over 41 months. Planning permission was granted in May 2011.[11]
  • Huntington Lane mine, near Telford in Shropshire. UK Coal plans to mine 900,000 tonnes of coal.[12] The proposed mine met sustained opposition with a protest camp established to block mining.[13]
  • Parkwall North mine, near Crook in County Durham. The company states that the mine "aims to recover 1¼ million tonnes of coal and ½ million tonnes of fireclay." On its website the company states that "there was opposition at the proposal from the local community." In response, it claims that it "took this into account and changed the plans and have targeted the significant community fund very well which has helped to reverse the opposition to our operations."[14]
  • Potland Burn mine, near Ashington in Northumberland. UK Coal is planning to extract approximately 2 million tonnes of coal from the mine from when it commenced the operation in March 2010 and the scheduled closure in December 2016.[15]
  • Lodge House mine, near Ilkeston in Derbyshire. The mine has mined a total of 1 million tonnes since 2008 and an approval for a mine expansion allows the mining of another 750,000 until 2015.[16]
  • Minorca mine, near Measham in Leicestershire. Mining operation began in March 2012 with the first coal produced later that year. UK Coal states that it expects 1.25 million tonnes to be mined over four years.[17]

Proposed coal mines

As of October 2012, UK Coal lists its proposed open cut coal mines as being the:[10]

  • Marley Hill Colliery near Marley Hill in County Durham is a proposal to mine 1 million tonnes from the abandoned colliery and coke works. The company states that the proposed mining operation could operate for approximately 3 years;[18]
  • Deanfield coal mine is located to the west of New Sharlston in Wakefield and would recover just under 1.2 million tonnes of coal.[19]
  • Hoodsclose coal mine near Ebchester in Northumberland is a proposal to mine approximately 2 million tonnes of coal. After stating that "it is often overlooked that coal is vital in the production of steel", UK Coal states that "a significant", but unspecified, "amount of this high quality “coking” coal. If the go ahead is received to our proposed development of the site, then it could be indigenous coal that will continue the re-establishment of the British steel industry, vital to our economic recovery."[20]
  • Shortwood coal mine is a proposaed mine to the north of the Trowell services centre next to the M1 freeway. UK Coal "have submitted a planning application for the recovery of nearly 1.3 million tonnes of coal and up to 1/4 million tonnes of fireclay. The site would be operational for just over 5 ½ years creating 56 full time jobs."[21]
  • Bradley coal mine is a proposed coal mine in County Durham. UK Coal have proposed to mine 550,000 tonnes of coal between 2013 and 2016. On its website the company states that "our application for planning consent was recommended for approval by the Planning Officer at Durham County Council. It was however turned down by the Council’s Planning Committee. After a Public Inquiry the application was refused and we are now appealing to the High Court."[22]

Citizen Action

March 22, 2010: Protesters Set up Camp to Protest Mine in UK

On March 22, 2010, anti-coal activists began protesting UK Coal's proposed coal mine near the communities of New Works and Little Wenlock. UK Coal promised to take legal action against the protesters if they did not remove themselves from the site. The protest began in response to the coal company's proposed opencast mine to be dug in the area. Dozens of protesters, some camped over night, sought to disrupt the operation with non-violent direct action. One of the protesters, who wouldn't be named, said: “We object because it’s so close to The Wrekin and people’s homes.”

Another protester, who also did not want to be named, said: “They already started to cut down trees which they said were around 20 years old, but they’re not, they’re about 150 years old.”[23]

As of April 28, 2010 the site of the proposed mine was still being occupied by anti-coal activists. At that time UK Coal was seeking legal authority to arrest the protesters. The government run company noted that operations were still set to begin by June 2010.[24]

March 26, 2010: Activists Protest Opencast Mine in UK

On Mary 26, 2010, 25 anti-coal activists occupied the site of the Blair House Opencast coal mining operation. The UK Coal company was operator of the mine. As reported by UK Indymedia about the event:

UK Coal have been given permission by Fife Council to mine 720,000 tonnes of coal from the site, a decision that disregarded the wishes of local residents. Nearly 150 people objected to the planning application for this site and there were no letters of support. The Council, in their defence, wouldn't dare refuse another open cast coal mine application after their refusal of ATH Resources mine at Muir Dean on the insistence of Crossgates residents, was overturned by the government and cost them financially.
The site is ecologically diverse and home to a population of Great Crested Newts, a European Protected Specie, the Black Wood Wildlife site, designated as an area that once had ancient woodland and is now home to birch forests and oak trees, orchids, breeding birds and wintering birds, bats, red squirrels and Brown hares, listed on the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. The Cowstrandburn river will be diverted and undoubtedly polluted, along with other watercourses in the area.
Some 2.11 million tonnes of CO2 will be released into the atmosphere from the combustion of the coal, with more still being released from the mining process. None of this will be captured and stored. New coal mines such as this one undermine the governments plans to reduce Scotland's CO2 emissions and highlight the hypocrisy of government ministers and local councils when it comes to reducing emissions.
Fiona Richards, one of the people currently occupying the site said, “This new coal mine is only one of 20 such others to have recently been given planning permission in Scotland. If we are to have any chance of limiting dangerous climate change and protecting communities from carbon-intensive industries, direct action must be taken as councillors, mining companies and the government have shown their unwillingness to solve the problems we face.”[25]

April 2010: Coal Activists End Protest at Opencast Mine in UK

Protesters who occupied an opencast mine operated by UK Coal to highlight an opencast coal development in the town of Fife believe ended their protest after two weeks in April 2010. The activists left the mine site prior to a court order that would have forced them to. In a statement the group wrote:

The camp occupied the site for a week-and-a-half to show UK Coal and other mine operators that no new mine or coal infrastructure is safe and out of reach of protesters. The intention of the camp from the beginning was to hold a short-term occupation to bring attention to the issue, make links with local communities and cost UK Coal money. One of the primary aims of the camp was to cost UK Coal money and make it more difficult for the company to cause such destruction in other places.[26]

November 2010: Opencast mining plans dismissed at appeal

In November 2010 a proposed development to the east of the town of Leeds in the UK was thrown out following concerted campaign against the plan. Residents Against Greenbelt Exploitation (RAGE) group in a bid to defeat the plans.

The controversial plan was originally submitted by Banks Developments in 2006 to extract coal and other minerals from land close to the Fairburn Ings nature reserve in Ledston. This application was rejected by Leeds Council in August 2009. The developer then submitted an appeal against the decision, but the appeal was later dismissed.[27]

Contact Details

UK COAL Head Office
Harworth Park
Blyth Road
South Yorkshire
DN11 8DB
Tel: 01302 751751
Fax: 01302 752420
Email: enquire AT

Articles and Resources


  1. UK Coal, "Company summary", UK Coal website, accessed October 2012.
  2. UK Coal, "UK Coal Plc: Interim Report 2012", August 2012.
  3. UK Coal, "Our History", UK Coal website, accessed June 2008.
  4. John Collinridge, "UK Coal digging its way out of trouble" Yorkshire Post, January 18, 2011.
  5. "U.K. Coal Slumps Most Since July After Reporting Third Loss" Amanda Jordan, Bloomberg, April 19, 2011.
  6. "UK Coal chairman pledges ‘fundamental overhaul’" William MacNamara,, April 19, 2011.
  7. "Operations: Overview" UK Coal, accessed January 2011.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 UK Coal, "UK Coal Plc: Interim Report 2012", August 2012, page 4.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 UK Coal, "Our deep mines", UK Coal website, accessed October 2012.
  10. 10.0 10.1 UK Coal, "Our surface mines", UK Coal website, accessed October 2012. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Open" defined multiple times with different content
  11. Northumberland County Council, "Butterwell Opencast coal site", Northumberland County Council website, accessed October 2012.
  12. UK Coal, "Huntington Lane – Sensitive Operation and Local Investment", UK Coal website, accessed October 2012.
  13. Defend Huntington Lane, Defend Huntington Lane website, accessed October 2012.
  14. UK Coal, "Parkwall North – Contentious Site Wins Round Local Community", UK Coal website, accessed October 2012.
  15. UK Coal, "Potland Burn - Continuing Northumberland’s Proud Mining Traditions",UK Coal website, accessed October 2012.
  16. UK Coal, "Lodge House & Extension – Long Term Environmental Benefits", UK Coal website, accessed October 2012.
  17. UK Coal, "Minorca – Our Newest Active Mine", UK Coal website, accessed October 2012.
  18. UK Coal, "Marley Hill Colliery Reclamation Scheme – Making Good the Contamination of the Past", UK Coal website, accessed October 2012.
  19. UK Coal, "Deanfield - Continuing Yorkshire's Proud Mining Traditions", UK Coal website, accessed October 2012.
  20. UK Coal, "Hoodsclose – High Quality Coal to Fuel Our Rejuvenated Steel Industry", UK Coal website, accessed October 2012.
  21. UK Coal, "Shortwood – New Jobs For Nottinghamshire", UK Coal website, accessed October 2012.
  22. UK Coal, "Bradley – Awaiting the Outcome of an Appeal to the High Court", UK Coal website, accessed October 2012.
  23. "Protesters dig in over mining plans" Shrosphire Star, March 22, 2010.
  24. "Shuttle service helps anti-mining fight" Shrosphire Star, April 22, 2010.
  25. "Site of New UK Coal Open Cast Mine Occupied in Fife" Indymedia UK, March 26, 2010.
  26. "Protesters leave mine before court order" The Courier, April 2010.
  27. "Opencast mining plans dismissed at appeal" John Baron, Guardian Leeds, November 16, 2010.

Related articles

UK coal related articles

Global coal use

This article is a stub. You can help by expanding it.