1. ITV Report

Coal mining in West Cumbria: what you need to know

Mining could make a return. Credit: PA

Are we close to seeing the return of coal mining to west Cumbria?

Coking coal is vital for the steel making industry, and millions of tonnes of it was extracted from the Haig pit from 1914 until it closed in 1986.

Much of it was found beneath the seabed, up to five miles offshore.

The Haig Colliery. Credit: ITV Border

These days the majority of coking coal is imported from Australia and America, but there is a real desire to build a new underground mine near Whitehaven.

West Cumbria Mining Company is behind the plans, and for the last 12 months they've been carrying out investigations both onshore and offshore.

The most important section of the coal field extends more than 14 miles from St Bees to Maryport.

The firm has identified around one billion tonnes of coking coal. The question is... what quality is it and can it be extracted?

The site the company is investigating. Credit: West Cumbria Mining Company.

Mining in West Cumbria:

  • Mining was once West Cumbria's biggest industry
  • 48-million tonnes of coal was extracted from the Haig Colliery, much of it beneath the seabed
  • It opened in 1914 and closed in 1986 as part of the coal industry decline in the UK

The return of mining to west Cumbria could create hundreds of jobs, but given the landscape any development would be subject to environmental scrutiny.

The company would also need to take into account the struggles of the steel industry so far this year - as coking coal is vital for the industry.

Tomorrow (7 November) West Cumbria Mining Company is holding a public open day to tell people more about the plans.