Open-pit coal mining in the United Kingdom

Open-pit coal mining in the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom produces about ten million tons of coal a year [1] from open-pit mines. The majority comes from Scotland [2], with the largest operator there being the Scottish Coal subsidiary of Scottish Resources Group [3]; they are rather unforthcoming about the locations of their mines.

Statistics on open-pit coal mining are compiled by the British Geological Survey from information provided by local planning authorities, and available at "Opencast coal statistics". .

Any given site does not last very long - four or five years at extraction rates of up to a quarter-million tons a year. Open-pit sites active in 2010 include [4]:



Miller Argent in Merthyr Tydfil

Miller Argent run the 'Ffos-y-fran Land Reclamation Scheme' in eastern Merthyr Tydfil, which involves mining the coal from under 367 hectares of land made derelict by earlier coal-mining operations; the coal will be provided to the Aberthaw Power Station on the Glamorgan coast. The project started in 2007 and is expected to last 17.5 years.

Tower Colliery site in Hirwaun

The deep mine at Tower Colliery closed in 2008, but there is a plan to build an 80-hectare 165-metre open-pit mine to extract a remaining 6Mton reserve of anthracite, for which a planning application was registered in July 2010 [5].


Energybuild Ltd operates an opencast site here [6]; it was estimated to have 450kton of recoverable coal in 2006, which has mostly been excavated between 2006 and 2009. The overburden was sold as road stone.

UK COAL (England and Scotland)

UK COAL active sites in 2010

  • Long Moor: 725kton initial reserve
  • Lodge House (Derbyshire): 1Mton initial reserve; further 800kton awaiting planning approval August 2011 [7]
  • Cutacre (Greater Manchester, between Bolton and Salford): 900kton initial reserve[8]
  • Steadsburn (fifteen miles north of Newcastle-upon-Tyne): 1Mton initial reserve plus 300ktons of fireclay
  • Stobswood, at Stobswood near Morpeth in Northumberland.[1][2]

UK COAL prospective sites in 2010 [9]

  • Hoodsclose, Co. Durham (2200 kton coal + 500kton fireclay) [10]
  • Potland Burn, Northumberland (2,000 kton)
  • Park Wall North, Co. Durham (1275 kton)
  • Bradley, Co. Durham (550 kton) - rejected in February 2011 [11] though UK Coal is appealing [7]
  • Huntington Lane, Shropshire (900kton)
  • Blair House, Fife (700kton)
  • Former Minorca Colliery (Measham, Leicestershire); 1250 kton + 250 kton fireclay - planning permission granted July 2011, production expected to commence summer 2012 [7]
  • Butterwell Disposal Point (Northumberland); 1000 kton + 200kton fireclay


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