Work at a Northumberland surface mine has become a family affair, with no fewer than six sets of fathers and sons now working together on site.
Regional employer Banks Mining has around 150 people working at its Shotton surface mine near Cramlington, and is one of Northumberland’s largest private sector employers.
The Durham-headquartered firm has employed many members of several different local families since it first started working in the area more than 30 years ago, but it’s thought that this is the first time that so many fathers and sons have worked together at a Banks site.
Among the co-working dads and lads are Andy and Scott Moore from Widdrington village. Having previously worked at Banks Mining’s Delhi site on the Blagdon Estate, Andy came back to Banks five years ago to work as a plant operative at Shotton.
Twenty-three year old Scott followed his father to Shotton in 2013, working as a dump truck driver, and Andy is hoping that he’ll not be the last member of the Moore family to work in the industry.
He says: “I’ve worked in surface mining for the last 30 years, and when Scott was looking for a new job, I actively encouraged him to apply to work here, and we enjoy having each other around. We do a skilled job that’s well paid and Banks has always been a good firm to work for.
“My younger son will be leaving school in the near future, and I’m hoping that he’ll be able to join Scott and me into the industry by applying for an apprenticeship at the new Highthorn site.”
Operations at Shotton commenced in 2008, and will run through until 2019, when full restoration of the site is scheduled to have been completed.
Around 1.5 million tonnes of carefully-selected stone, clay and soil taken from Shotton were also used by Banks to form the world-famous Northumberlandia landform, which sits next to the Shotton site and which now attracts more than 100,000 visitors every year.
Family-owned Banks Mining employs around 200 people across the Shotton and nearby Brenkley Lane surface mines, and contributes around £35m to the regional economy every year through wages, investments and the local supply chain.
More than £500,000 is paid in annual business rates to Northumberland County Council and Newcastle City Council through the two projects, which have also enabled the Banks Group to donate around £800,000 to local groups and good causes in Northumberland over the last decade alone through the Banks Community Fund.
Banks Mining is looking to extend its operational presence in the county through the proposed Highthorn surface mine scheme to the south east of the village of Widdrington, at which at least 100 jobs would be created – 50 new posts and a further 50 existing jobs transferring from its other existing sites.
Jeannie Kielty, development relations coordinator at The Banks Group, says: “We’ve had many examples over the years of sons following their fathers into work at our surface mines, and the fact that so many young people choose to do this is testament to the employment, training and skills development opportunities we provide, as well as to what their fathers think of Banks as an employer.
“Banks is a substantial contributor to the local economy, a long-standing supporter of many Northumberland communities through the Banks Community Fund and one of the county’s largest private sector employers, and we wish to continue to maintain all these roles over the long-term, something which the Highthorn project could help enable us to do.”
For more information about operations at the Shotton surface mine, please visitwww.banksgroup.co.uk/shotton