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Cumbria’s New Coal Mine

February 5, 2021

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.

  1. permalink
    February 5, 2021 5:58 pm

    What a sound piece of unambiguous journalism. Thank you

  2. 1saveenergy permalink
    February 5, 2021 6:11 pm

    Well done Paul

  3. Penda100 permalink
    February 5, 2021 6:21 pm

    Thank you Paul. As you said, no chance of hearing the full story on the Biased Broadcasting Corporation.

  4. Devoncamel permalink
    February 5, 2021 6:26 pm

    Paul, I hope this info is being disseminated far and wide.

  5. GeoffB permalink
    February 5, 2021 7:01 pm

    Excellent info…The green loonies are really stirred up and closing ranks, they are really rattled by the approval. Yippee….lets see what Boris and Nut Nuts make of it.
    O/T That OFGEM pratt Jonathan Brierley blames the fuel price rise on bad debts, when it is all down to his days writing the climate change act.

  6. sean permalink
    February 5, 2021 7:19 pm

    Well done Whitehaven, bringing real jobs to the local area.

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      February 5, 2021 9:51 pm

      “ It is estimated that the new Cumbria mine will save 20,000 tonnes of CO2 pa in avoided shipping emissions.”

      Thankyou for that statistic, Paul. Until now I have only been able to argue that the need to import steel which could be made in the UK or the coal to make it adds to CO2 rather than reducing it. Good to have a figure to hang the argument on.

      Not that I have any problem with CO2 personally. I reckon another 350ppm would be better along with another degree or two on the temperature!

  7. February 6, 2021 4:30 am

    Excellent work, as usual Paul.

  8. February 8, 2021 1:23 pm

    Here’s a great article by Dominic Lawson which gives some background to the fix Johnsons in.

  9. February 9, 2021 12:48 am

    I wish to lodge a complaint against the biased reporting by Roger Harrabin on the subject of a coal mine in Cumbria. With 6 articles over 25 days, he has reported the views of Greenpeace, various Ministers but not any of the local MP’s or Mayor who support the project including Trudy Harrison who is Boris Johnson’s parliamentary private secretary and is the local Constituency MP. Harrabin has properganderised, with articles opposing the mine, never once has he interviewed any of those supporting the mine. Nor has he interviewed any of the local population who would most benefit from new regular employment opportunities in an area of high seasonability. Despite not having a science degree Harrabin weighs in on whether the mined coal is suitable by getting a geological comment from Greenpeace not bothering to ask an independent geologist nor the company involved. Instead, he asks the views of an American criminal. Nor does he ask any representative of British Steel whether they would use it. If Harrabin had bothered to have checked he would have seen in the amended planning application that rail routes to Redcar, Scunthorpe, and Port Talbot had been investigated which if Harrabin had ever bothered to do journalism, he would have found that they are the sites of rather large steelworks. His attitude would appear to be similar to Biden when discussing mining in the USA. Let them eat code. It would appear that he is pursuing a vendetta against the environmental impact of mining without checking as to whether the company had undertaken an environment audit, including offsetting GHG emissions, and that no objection had been made at any stage in the process. One would have thought that his concern for the environment might have been placated had he bothered to report on the great lengths the company had gone to have mitigated their impact. By allowing biased, vicious, vendetta against an industry the BBC is acting against the spirit and the letter of its charter.

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