As part of the continuing operations of its Shotton surface mine near Cramlington, family-owned Banks Mining conducted a planned seven-month exercise which saw its site offices, processing facilities and plant workshops moved to a new location 900 metres away.
The move, which involved taking out and reinstalling the site’s communications and utilities infrastructure as well as physically moving 20 buildings, will enable the coal to be taken out of the area where the compound formally stood over the coming months.
Northumberland-based suppliers who won project contracts included plant & tool hire firm Hubbway, fastenings & fixings stockists Thomas Potter Ltd, Cortech Fire And Security Systems Limited, Fergusons Removals and plant & machinery hire business J O Straughan & Co.
A further 21 North East-based firms provided different specialist products and services, ranging from modular buildings, air conditioning units and two-way radio systems through to fabricated steel, road surfacing and site security, and the overall value of work awarded to regional suppliers totalled around £470,000.
Mike Allen, director at Birtley-based KBR IT & Networking Solutions, who were responsible for installing and managing the communications infrastructure around the Shotton site, says: “The wireless and fixed systems we put in place have given Banks the flexibility and mobility they need to maintain communications across the site as their operations have evolved.
“We’ve worked on the Shotton site for around five months in total, and have seen at first hand the benefits to all sides that Banks’ policy of working with local suppliers brings to everyone.
“Knowing that we’ve got a clear way into competing for contracts like this on our doorstep provides a real incentive for our business, and it also means that we’re on hand to easily manage our work without having to first overcome any distance-related logistical issues.”
Durham-headquartered Banks Mining has worked in South East Northumberland for more than three decades, and currently employs over 200 people across its Shotton and nearby Brenkley Lane mining sites.
The two sites contribute around £35m to the regional economy every year through wages, investments and the local supply chain, as well as more than £400,000 in annual business rates to Northumberland County Council and Newcastle City Council through the two projects, and have enabled Banks to donate around £800,000 to local groups and good causes in Northumberland over the last decade alone through the Banks Community Fund.
The Shotton site is scheduled to remain in production until 2018, with full restoration set to be completed during the following year, and the compound move was programmed and undertaken in such a way as to avoid any disruption to either the operation of the site or the dispatch of coal to Banks’ customers.
Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at The Banks Group, adds: “Our aim is to bring tangible economic, employment, environmental, supply chain and social benefits to all the communities in which we operate, and choosing to work with local companies has long been a central plank to this strategy.
“We’re lucky to have a wide range of high quality suppliers based within our home region from which we’ve been able to source the support required for this complex project, and their collective expertise, combined with that of our mining, plant and construction teams, has enabled us to get the job done with maximum efficiency.
“The coal we produce at Shotton provides substantial numbers of jobs for local people, supports British industry and electricity generation, creates considerable capital for investment in community improvement projects, heat homes across our region and helps to provide a responsible and reliable source of indigenous coal that reduces the UK’s reliance on imports that may have travelled thousands of miles to reach us.
“Coal is responsible for generating around 40 per cent of the energy that we all use in homes, schools, hospitals, offices and factories, and it will remain central to our energy mix for the foreseeable future, so maximising production from appropriate domestic sources like Shotton and Brenkley Lane will bring the UK direct economic, employment and environmental benefits.”
For more information about operations at the Shotton surface mine, please visit www.banksgroup.co.uk/shotton