December 7, 2017 - The future of mining in West Cumbria is connected to its past, thanks to work undertaken by a new company.
West Cumbria Mining is working to construct a £165 million undersea mine off the coast of St Bees to extract coking coal.
If its planning application is successful next spring, it is hoped construction work will start in the winter.
West Cumbria Mining's project offices moved into the former Haig Mining Museum at Kells in early 2016, after the museum closed at the end of 2015.
Mark Kirkbride, the firm's chief executive, said they realized that the museum premises had a large collection of artefacts connected to the local mining history, much of which was donated by local people.
He said: "This is a collection which is significant to the local community and we wanted to make sure it was preserved for future generations.
"If planning permission is granted, West Cumbria Mining will be around for many years to come and we know how important the mining industry was to the people of West Cumbria.
"I believe it is very important to recognise and celebrate that past as we look to the future."
There were no easily accessible records for the museum's collection so a team of three staff were appointed to carry out a review, spending 14 weeks cataloguing and recording all the historical items on the site.
The team wanted to prevent any deterioration due to damp and make sure the artifacts were safeguarded for future generations.
The team catalogued and photographed 4,526 photographs, objects, books and documents relating to the mining industry and have carefully packaged and stored them to reduce the risk of further deterioration.
A decision about the future of the museum, which is still closed to the public, is still being considered.
Some of the collection items were on display at two drop-in sessions at West Cumbria Mining's offices at Haig Pit on Wednesday and today.
Dozens of people attended for an update of West Cumbria Mining's plans.
If Cumbria County Council gives the scheme the go-ahead, work creating the mine could be completed by autumn 2020 and full mining production would begin in 2023.
More than 1,600 have people expressed an interest in working at the mine which would have more than 500 employees.
Until the planning application has been determined people will not find out if they have moved on to the next stage of the recruitment process.
West Cumbria Mining said it was working with local training providers to help make sure people in the area have the right skills to match the roles on offer.
It has also committed to employ 80 percent of its workforce from within 20 miles of the mine and offer up to 50 apprenticeships.
The firm’s annual spend would be around £100m, with most of this flowing back into the local economy, said head of communications Helen Davies.