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  1. ITV Report

Tower Colliery opencast project begins

The pithead at Tower Colliery is now a listed site Photo: ITV News Wales

Opencasting has begun at the site of Tower Colliery in Hirwaun.

The project aims to extract a million tonnes of coal a year for the next six years, which will be transported to Aberthaw Power Station.

Tower Colliery closed in January 2008, thirteen years after its workforce bought out the mine after its initial closure by British Coal on 'economic' grounds.

Coal extraction will take place at the site of the mine's former coal washery. A 'Tower Fund', set up between the opencast operator Hargreaves and the miners, will see 44 pence donated from every tonne of coal sold to community projects

The site's distinctive pithead and headframe will remain standing, under a preservation order by CADW.

The scheme has not been without controversy. When the planning application was submitted in 2011, the Countryside Council for Wales warned that wildlife habitats would be destroyed by the work.

85 locals also objected, citing health and safety fears due to the site's proximity to nearby homes.