Borehole reveals coal at Longtown mine site
Last updated at 09:05, Tuesday, 19 March 2013
A mine that could bring hundreds of jobs to the area is a step closer to opening after drillers struck coal.
Australian company New Age Exploration (NAE) has been drilling in the Lochinvar coalfield, near Longtown.
The material it has found will now form part of research to see if plans to open a full-scale mine there are viable.
News of the discovery has been welcomed by community leaders who hope the mine may provide an economic lifeline to an area under threat of losing valuable employment.
David Leigh, NAE’s exploration manager at Lochinvar, said: “We have got to get the stuff analysed and we need to follow up on the information on the coal quality. That will be crucial to the viability of the project.”
Results are not expected until late this month or early next.
The company is drilling for coking coal, used to produce steel.
The field, which extends as far north as Evertown, near Canonbie, and south to Longtown, was discovered in the 1950s by the National Coal Board (NCB). Other explorations have since been made but these never progressed any further.
A working mine would not be opened until 2016, at the earliest. It is not yet clear how much coal would be extracted each year.
If the plan comes to fruition, a rail hub would be needed to transport the material to steel mills.
One currently exists at Longtown’s Ministry of Defence munitions depot, currently the town’s largest employer with a 300-strong workforce. Its future is however under threat as the Government considers its fate.
NAE has estimated that a mine could create between 200 and 300 jobs, with another 50 to 75 in supporting industries.
Gary Fietz, the company’s managing director, confirmed the discovery in an announcement to the Australian stock market.
He described the discovery as “very exciting” and one which “confirms the potential for an excellent thickness coal seam at Lochinvar”.
Mr Fietz added: “This is a great initial result. We have already commenced drilling of the second hole and look forward to announcing further results.”
The news has been welcomed by community leaders in Longtown.
Paul Brown, the chairman of Arthuret parish council, said: “It is fantastic news. I am extremely pleased.
“But I don’t want anybody to raise their hopes immediately, it is going to be a very long-term project.”
An NAE representative is set to attend the parish council’s next meeting, at its centre on Esk Street, on Monday. Councillor Ray Bloxham, who represents Longtown on Carlisle City Council, said: “Anything that means there is a possibility of extra employment is good for Longtown.”
He also said it would be important to make sure that local roads were able to cope with lorries carrying coal.
First published at 08:44, Tuesday, 19 March 2013
Published by http://www.cumberlandnews.co.uk
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