Case study: extraction of fossil fuels - coal mining in Northumberland

A company called Banks Mining plans to open a new opencast coal mine in Northumberland. This is a way of extracting coal by scraping away the Earth's surface, rather than digging down. The company want to extract coal between 2016 and 2027. By 2032, they will have restored the site back to its former beauty.

Location

Druridge Bay lies to the north of Newcastle-upon-Tyne on the north east coast of the UK. It lies between the villages of Ellington and Widdrington. The site contains 7 million tonnes of coal, which will take approximately 10 years to extract.

Druridge Bay is on the northeast coast of England. There is a possible extraction area near Widdrington.

Advantages

The extraction of coal at Druridge Bay could bring many advantages:

  1. It will create more than 150 jobs up to and beyond 2032. This will make a big difference to the economy of the area.
  2. It could become a visitor attraction when restored. Banks Mining is working with Northumberland Tourism and the Northumberland Wildlife Trust regarding this phase of the project.
  3. Coal from Druridge Bay could be used in UK power stations. This keeps money within the country and reduces the pollution that is created when coal is transported over long distances.

Disadvantages

  1. Fine particles caused by opencast mining affect air quality. This can cause health problems with the eyes, nose and throat. It can also lead to breathing difficulties.
  2. Noise from blasting and vibration could occur, even outside of normal working hours. This can cause hearing loss and sleep disturbance.
  3. Congestion on local roads is likely to increase as vehicles such as lorries will regularly use the site.
  4. Producing energy from coal increases the UK's carbon emissions, which are linked to global warming.
Opencast coal mining creates fine particles which pollute the air
Opencast coal mining creates fine particles which pollute the air