November 5, 2017 - England's West Cumbria Mining (WCM) has successfully completed, working together with its specialist contractor Hargreaves, the initial re-entry and inspection of the abandoned Sandwith Anhydrite Mine drift tunnels.
This is another key milestone for WCM in the development of its plans to construct a new 21st century underground metallurgical coal mine, located off the coast near Whitehaven and to be called Woodhouse Colliery, which would supply the UK and European steel making market.
Over the last six weeks the mining team has successfully gained entry into the tunnels by removing the concrete walls and backfilled stoppings at the entrances to both tunnels, and then carried out detailed inspections of the condition of the upper sections. The conditions within the tunnels was as anticipated by our engineers, with clear signs of deterioration and failure of the tunnel linings from 135m in the south drift and 230m in the north drift.
Commenting, Mark Kirkbride, CEO of WCM said ‘I’m very pleased that we have safely and successfully inspected the upper sections of both tunnels; the conditions further down the drifts have, as we expected, deteriorated since they were abandoned more than 30 years ago, and this work has been essential to confirm the extent of the work needed to be undertaken to repair and remediate these drift tunnels for our planned new mine’.
The team are now securing the drifts with new steel gates and the site remains protected by 24-hour security.
In May 2017 WCM submitted its planning application to Cumbria County Council to seek approval to proceed with the development of Woodhouse Colliery, it is currently anticipated that a decision will be reached in early 2018.
WCM will also be hosting its next community update event at Haig Museum on the 6th and December 7, 2017.