Work to reclaim coal from disused pit begins

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MILLIONS of tonnes of coal rejected when a deep coal mine was open are set to be reclaimed after the first foundations for a recycling plant were laid at a former colliery.

Doncaster-based RecyCoal recently won planning permission for its operation on the site of the old Rossington pit, south of the town, and yesterday unveiled the scheme to locals.

Rossington Colliery, which was first sunk just over a century ago in June 1912, finally closed more than five years ago, with the winding gear and other buildings demolished.

But the massive spoil heap, which contains around 13 million tonnes of material, remains in place and is a major geographical feature which can be seen from the M18 and A1(M) roads.

RecyCoal yesterday took the first steps in a four-year plan which will see its workers use state-of-the-art technology to sift through the waste and extract a million tonnes of usable fuel.

The coal recovered from the tip will be washed and then transferred onto trains using a relaid track and taken to power stations including West Burton, near Gainsborough.

It is estimated that around 70 jobs will be created once its project on the 400-acre site is fully up and running in a few weeks time.

The company’s sales director David Stafford said the site was one of the biggest it had tackled.

Mr Stafford told the Yorkshire Post: “We are currently in the process of preparing the site to start the recycling process and we’re building a bund and a wall of containers to reduce noise and dust.

“People in the area will see a gradual transformation of the site because we will work through the waste tip and then the site will be restored as we reclaim and separate the coal.

“Essentially we will be taking less than 10 per cent of the total volume out of the site and we will then plant tens of thousands of trees and reseed the land and pass it back to the owners.”

At present, the site is owned by Doncaster-based UK Coal which took on much of the nationalised British Coal estate, and RecyCoal has moved onto the site as a tenant during the operation.

The company makes its profit by selling on the coal, but Mr Stafford said it had invested £10m in making site workable, and would install 7km of paths and bridleways once it was complete.

He added: “The project means that we have to import less coal and also results in a good public amenity once its complete. I am looking forward to coming back in 10 years to see it.”

The project to remove the usable fuel is one of several in schemes starting in the immediate area which also includes a housing development planned for another part of the colliery site.

A scheme to build an “inland port” which will be served by the nearby East Coast mainline and the two motorways is also progressing, after being approved by Doncaster Council.

The final piece in the redevelopment jigsaw will be provided by the Finningley and Rossington Regeneration Route Scheme (FARRRS) link road from the M18 motorway to nearby Robin Hood Airport.

Mayor of Doncaster Peter Davies, who toured the site yesterday with an invited party of local residents and councillors, declared that the project was “good news for Rossington”.

He added: “It’s wonderful news for Doncaster’s economy, we have 70 jobs being created and a million tonnes of coal going into local power stations.

“Once the project is complete the area is going to be made to look extremely good and this is only the start of the projects which we will see in this area.

“With the FARRRS road and the Inland Port project we are going to see tens of thousands of jobs created in this area – everything is starting to come together.”

RecyCoal has already transformed several former coalfield sites and is now extending its reach around the world.

Among the places it is currently starting projects are Australia, Poland, the USA and South Africa.

At present it is completing a project at the former Langton colliery on the Derbyshire Nottinghamshire border, near Pinxton, alongside the M1.

martin.slack@ypn.co.uk