By DARA BUTTERFIELD
The Rusha coal mine in West Lothian has been awarded the maximum rating of ‘excellent’ from the Scottish Government’s environmental regulator for a third consecutive year.
Family-owned Banks Mining, based in Hamilton, has been operating the West Lothian surface mine, near Breich, since 2012, as part of a seven-year project to extract coal from the site. The coal extracted from Rusha is used for industrial, domestic and coal fired power generation in both Scotland and England.
Jim Donnelly, Divisional Director, Banks Mining, says: “As well as fuel being a significant business cost that we always need to manage carefully, our Development With Care approach commits us to operating our mining sites to the highest environmental standards.
“Banks Mining has always tried to set new standards for our industry, whether through developing world-leading noise suppression technologies, our ‘Restoration First’ approach in the early stages of site operations or the long-term contributions we make to the communities around our mines.”
Founded in County Durham in 1976, The Banks Group now employs over 420 people in surface mining, renewable energy and property development, with more than 200 of them based at its Shotton and Brenkley Lane surface mines in North East England and a further 50 at the Rusha site.
Banks Mining is part of the Banks Group which includes Banks Property and Banks Renewables -which operates 12 wind farms in Scotland.
Banks Mining is a major coal producer in the UK, having operated and restored more than 100 surface mines over more than three decades. It is the only UK mining company to have restored every surface mine it has ever worked. Following a successful trial at Rusha Surface Mine, a six-figure investment has been made in fuel efficiency technology to help cut costs and emissions at the West Lothian site.
Official figures from the Department of Energy (DECC) show that around 40% of the electricity generated in the UK is produced by coal fired power stations.
Rusha Surface Mine covers around 154 hectares of land at Breich in West Lothian. There is approximately 1.3 million tonnes of coal to be recovered and the site supports up to 50 jobs – including that of apprentice Craig Muir.
Craig chanced his luck one morning when he turned up at the Rusha mine asking for a job. The management at Banks Mining were so surprised and impressed by the 20-year-old’s bold move they decided to give him a chance and after Craig displayed huge enthusiasm for the role and a willingness to learn, he landed the job full-time.
Now Craig is on his way to a long and rewarding career as Banks Mining are paying for him to attend a training course at college. He is now also taking Construction Plant Mechanics course at Kelvin College in Glasgow, which will train him to be a plant fitter and graduate with an SVQ when he finishes.
He said: “I’m not one for sitting around and doing nothing, so when I heard about the site opening I went down to try and get a job.”
“Getting the job has changed my life, and now getting myself qualifications is going to improve my future and I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity that everyone at Banks has given me.”
Mining Director Donnelly added: said: “Craig is full of enthusiasm and is a positive role model for others.
“When he first arrived, we were impressed by his old fashioned method of job-seeking, and he showed great promise from day one and has never stopped asking for more work and responsibility.
“Over the last year his hard work and determination have seen him progress from his initial role and he has been able to participate in more skilled tasks and roles within the site maintenance team.”
The company estimates that Rusha site contributes more than £5 million to the local economy every year through wages and other supply chain contributions, and in addition to the people employed on site, it also supports a number of other off-site jobs in related transport and supplies activity.