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2020 / 2021 Edition

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Mine workers continue in employment

Workers at Ponesk

Banks Mining manage to retain majority of Rusha mine workers following suspension of coal extraction 

THE majority of workers at the Rusha surface coal mine, to the west of West Calder, in West Lothian, where coal extraction was recently suspended, have been able to continue working as operators Banks Mining set about restoring the site and succeed in securing a new contract to restore another surface mine.

Banks Mining’s Rusha surface mine commenced production in 2012 but was forced to suspend coal extraction earlier this year due to the closure of Scotland’s last coal-fired power station at Longannet.

Banks Mining have now refocused efforts on the restoration of the site, which will continue over the next two years while alternative local markets in Scotland for the remaining coal are being explored.

The Rusha site will be restored to a mix of diverse woodland and grazing land with the creation of additional water bodies, areas of ecological interest and new public footpaths.

Having successfully secured the contract with East Ayrshire Council for the restoration of the former surface coal mine at Ponesk, near Muirkirk, which was abandoned by Scottish Coal in 2013, all of Banks Mining’s employees at Rusha were given the opportunity to relocate to Ponesk.

Jim Donnelly, operations director with Banks Mining, said: ‘As a family firm, continuity of employment for our highly skilled workforce is very important to us, and through securing the restoration work at Ponesk we have been able to plan our operations in such a way that we were able to offer alternative opportunities for our workforce at the Rusha site.

‘Unfortunately, the option of working at Ponesk did not suit everyone and a small number of the team chose to take redundancy instead.’

Mr Donnelly added: ‘We will continue to explore all possible viable alternative markets for the coal from the Rusha site and we will continue with the restoration until the mine has been fully restored in accordance with the planning permission for the site.’

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