The United Kingdom’s first deep coal mine in 30 years is on the verge of being greenlighted to go into operation. The coal mine, which won planning approval from Cumbria council in 2020 has been stalled since then due to environmental concerns.
The Telegraph reports that Michael Gove, the UK’s housing and regional development minister, is on the cusp of approving the coal mine as the cabinet rallies behind proposals to wean the country of Russian imports.
The Boris Johnson led UK government is weighing the feasibility of opening the new coal mine to reduce dependence on Russian energy, according to a report by the Daily Telegraph on Saturday, citing sources in the Conservative Party.
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Reports say that Michael Gove is inclined to approve the construction of a new coal mine in the city of Whitehaven, Cumbria in the northwest of England. The project was originally presented several years back and greenlighted in October 2020, but six months later, the UK Cabinet of Ministers stalled certification and launched a new review of the project amid protests by environmentalists.
Against the backdrop of the situation in Ukraine and the sweeping restrictions placed on Moscow, which include scrapping Russian coal imports by the end of the year, the UK authorities could end up approving the project despite previous objections, The Telegraph writes. Gove is expected to reach a decision on the new mine by July 7, but sources say this could happen as early as mid-May. According to the Cabinet, the mine will provide coal for key steel mills.
If approved, the Whitehaven project will be the first new coal mine in Britain in three decades.
The project will focus on extracting metallurgical coal (met coal), which is used in the production of steel. Until recently, 40% of the UK’s met coal needs were covered by Russia.
However, contracts were scrapped amid the sanctions that followed the launch of Russia’s military operation in neighboring Ukraine.
Nnamdi Maduakor is a Writer, Investor and Entrepreneur