EFG Meeting 2015: Mining in a Crowded Place

Workshop Mining in a crowded country

11 & 12 June 2015

EFG Council

13 & 14 June 2015


North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers (NEIMEE), Newcastle (UK)

Mining is at the heart of the North of England’s history and development, probably dating back to Roman times. It was here that the steam engine was first widely used on railways, and here that the Davy safety lamp was first demonstrated, alongside that developed by Stephenson. Coal dominates the long history of mining, with lead and more recently fluorspar important in the hills behind Newcastle, and now potash from a deep mine in North Yorkshire. Yet this is a heavily populated region, with differing views about landuse and the acceptability of mining in the 21st Century. This workshop discusses future prospects for mining in the region, and explores in the field the legacy of metal mining in the North Pennines as well as current good practice in meeting modern environmental standards in coal mining.

Thursday 11 June

09.00 – Registration

09.15 – Introduction: geology of a busy region – David Manning (Newcastle University)

09.30 – The future for coal – Paul Younger (University of Glasgow)

10.00 – Potash in a National Park – Sirius Minerals

10.30 – Tea and coffee

11.00 – Metals: new life in the North Pennines? – Rick Smith (FWS Consultants Ltd)

11.30 – Remote mining – Stef Kapusniak (Business Development Manager – Mining, SMD Ltd)

11.45 – ¡VAMOS! Viable Alternative Mine Operating System – tbc

12.00 – Discussion

12.15 – Lunch

13.00 – Depart for field excursion part 1

18.00 – Return to Newcastle

19.30 – Dinner – Blackfriars Restaurant, Newcastle

Field excursion part 1: the Northumberland coalfield

Field excursion leader: David Manning

The Northumberland Coalfield has a long history of mining bituminous coals, dating back over 200 years. Surface mines are still operating and new surface mines are being planned. Current mining provides an opportunity to correct earlier environmental damage caused by both underground and previous surface mining, leading to the creation of amenity as well as improved landscapes. Exposures of coal bearing strata are excellent, both in working surface mines and in outcrops along the coast. This field excursion will give participants chance to see modern surface mining methods designed to minimize environmental harm, and to see key geological characteristics of the Westphalian coal-bearing strata.

Part A:

  • Present day surface mining and its legacy (courtesy of The Banks Group).

a) Shotton Surface Mine

b) Northumberlandia

c) Restoration to parkland

Part B:

  • Coastal outcrops of Westphalian sequence

Friday 12 June

Time to be confirmed – Depart from NEIMEE for field excursion part 2

19.30 – Dinner – Centre of Britain, Haltwhistle

23.00 – Return to Newcastle

Field excursion part 2: the North Pennine Orefield

Field excursion leader: Brian Young

The Northern Pennine Orefield, centred around the hills and valleys of Alston Moor and Weardale, comprises numerous vein and related deposits hosted in a cyclothemic succession of Carboniferous limestones, sandstones and mudstones. The deposits exhibit many characteristics of the worldwide ‘Mississippi Valley’ type of mineralisation. Since at least the 12th century the area has been a major source of lead and iron ores, though with the peak outputs being recorded during the 18th and 19th centuries. More recently, zinc ores became an important product together with the development of large scale mining for fluorspar, barytes and witherite. The local abundance of the latter mineral and other barium carbonates was a unique feature of the field. During its long mining history the area became an important centre for the origination of many novel ideas and concepts in the understanding of the nature and origins of deposits of this sort. Although commercial mining ended in 1999, the Orefield remains an important focus of research and has recently seen renewed exploration for hitherto undiscovered base metal deposits. In addition to its substantial output of metal ores and industrial minerals, the Orefield has also long been celebrated internationally as the source of some of the finest known specimens of several of its constituent minerals, most notably fluorite, magnificent examples of which are to be seen in most of the world’s major collections. This excursion will visit several of the Orefield’s classic locations at which numerous key facets of the mineralisation will be demonstrated and discussed. Many features related to the area’s rich and varied mining and associated social history will also be seen. Additionally, the day will also focus on some of the environmental legacy issues that remain from centuries of mining and smelting and will explore some of the environmental issues that will inevitably accompany any future proposals for a resumption of mining in the area which is now protected as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There will be opportunities to see and, in places, collect representative examples of some of the Orefield’s minerals.

Saturday 13 June

09.00 – 17.00 EFG Council Meeting (attendance permitted for EFG members only)

19.30 – Council Dinner – NEIMEE

Sunday 14 June

09.00 – 13.00 EFG Council Meeting (attendance permitted for EFG members only)

Newcastle upon Tyne is a city based on coal, mining of which possibly dates back to Roman times. The city started to export coal in 1296. The city marks the northern frontier of the Roman Empire, and is situated at the eastern end of Hadrian’s Wall. The Great Northern Coalfield extends west, south and north of Newcastle and produced much of the coal that fueled the Industrial Revolution in Britain. Now, coal mining takes place in surface mines, including within Newcastle city centre. More widely, there is a long history of metal mining in the North Pennine Orefield, now the North Pennines Geopark. The region is famous for the fluorspar specimens from County Durham that are found in all major museums. Lead and zinc were also mined, and recent exploration activity (Minco) is taking place with zinc as the primary target. The orefield has produced barite and witherite, and is the type locality not only for witherite but for the unusual barium carbonate minerals barytocalcite and alstonite. Modern mining activity includes the potash mine at Boulby (Europe’s deepest mine), a project which started in 1969. York Potash Ltd (part of Sirius Minerals) is currently working on a second deep mine project near Boulby, aimed at extracting polyhalite. Mining’s legacy – good and bad: Historically, mining was carried out with little knowledge or understanding of the environmental consequences. The North Pennine Orefield remains the dominant source of zinc pollution of the River Tyne catchment, and dealing with this is a major priority. The Great Northern Coalfield has many examples of acid mine drainage, and considerable work has been done to establish sustainable ways of treating minewaters. One benefit of mining is the creation of assets for tourism and leisure – present-day surface mining of coal has created Northumberlandia, a sculpture by Charles Jencks that is the world’s largest female form. The future: current exploration projects relate to zinc and potash production, and the surface mining of coal continues. The region leads the way in novel energy projects – 2 deep holes (1 km and 1.8 km) drilled recently in the search for deep geothermal resources, have measured exceptional geothermal gradients for UK urban areas – 35°C/km. Coal gasification is proposed by Five-Quarter Ltd for the offshore coalfield, to produce a hydrogen-carbon monoxide mix as an alternative to methane. Public engagement: modern mining projects in northern England involve close liaison with local communities. In addition to benefits arising from employment, mining companies typically establish community funds and local groups can bid to these to support a range of projects, including sport, community facilities, wildlife reserves etc. Mining companies work very closely with local communities from the earliest stage of a project, as one of the key activities for gaining the social acceptance that enables a project to move forward.

Event Express has negotiated special discounted hotel rates for attendees of this conference at a wide range of well-located hotels. We recommend that you book early to secure your reservation at your preferred hotel.

For further details visit – www.eventexpressuk.co.uk/mining-in-a-crowded-country/


Newcastle International Airport is located approximately 6 miles/9 kilometres from the city centre – www.newcastleairport.com. It has frequent daily services to the main hubs of London Heathrow, Paris and Amsterdam, with daily direct services to Copenhagen, Brussels, Dusseldorf, Dublin, Geneva, Stavanger and Malaga. The airport has a direct metro link to Newcastle City Centre, which takes approximately 20 minutes.


The main railway station is Newcastle Central Station. East Coast Main Line provides a half-hourly train service to London King’s Cross, with a journey time of about three hours. Other destinations on the East Coast Main Line include to the south; Durham, Darlington, York, Doncaster and Peterborough and north to Scotland with all trains calling at Edinburgh and some extended to Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness. Cross Country Route trains serve destinations in Yorkshire, the Midlands and the South West including Birmingham, Bournemouth, Bristol, Derby, Leeds, Plymouth, Sheffield and Reading. First TransPennine Express operates services to Manchester and Liverpool. Northern Rail provides local and regional services to Carlisle, Hexham, Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Morpeth.


The city is served by the Tyne and Wear Metro. The Metro consists of two lines. The Green line starts at Newcastle Airport, goes through the city centre and into Sunderland, terminating at South Hylton. The yellow line starts at St. James Park, runs north of the river alongside Byker towards Whitley Bay, before returning to the city, on to Gateshead and terminates at South Shields.


There are 3 main bus companies providing services in the city; Arriva North East, Go North East and Stagecoach North East. There are two major bus stations in the city: Haymarket bus station and Eldon Square bus station. Arriva mainly operates from Haymarket Bus Station providing the majority of services to the north of Newcastle, Northumberland and North Tyneside. Go-Ahead operates from Eldon Square Bus Station, providing the majority of services south of the river in Gateshead, South Tyneside, Sunderland, and County Durham. Stagecoach is the primary operator in the city proper, with cross-city services mainly between both the West and East ends via the city centre with some services extending out to the MetroCentre, Killingworth, Wallsend and Ponteland. Bus Services in Newcastle upon Tyne and the surrounding boroughs part of the Tyne and Wear area are coordinated by Nexus, the Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive. Other major departure points are Pilgrim Street for buses running South of the Tyne via Gateshead, and Blackett Street/Monument for services to the East or West of the city. Many bus services also pass Newcastle Central Station, a major interchange for Rail and Metro Services. QuayLink is a bus service operated to the Quayside from Newcastle and Gateshead. Newcastle Coach Station, near the railway station, handles long distance bus services operated by National Express.