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Industry news: April 2010

SRG completes £47.5 million funding deal with Lloyds Banking Group

Opencast coal mining, BGS©NERC

Scottish Resources Group (SRG), the UK’s largest surface mining coal producer, has secured £47.5 million in funding from the Lloyds Banking Group. This deal replaces an existing £23 million facility with the company’s previous bankers. SRG plan to use these funds for the development and growth of the business. The deal follows a successful year for SRG with production up over 12 per cent year–on–year and five million tonnes of coal added to the reserves base. Andrew Clark Hutchinson, Relationship Director of Lloyds Banking Group, said ‘The deal supports a sound Scottish business in an important sector of the Scottish economy’.

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Wolf Minerals provides update on Hemerdon project

Hemerdon open pit, BGS©NERC

Wolf Minerals Limited has released an update on the progress of the Definitive Feasibility Study at its Hemerdon Ball tungsten and tin project in Devon, one of the largest tungsten and tin resources in the western world. The study is on target to be completed in the third quarter of this year. The highlights of recent work include;

  • Metallurgical testwork to confirm flowsheet well underway

  • Plant design and engineering for Definitive Feasibility Study in progress

  • Drilling of six water monitoring bores completed

  • Rock material making up the waste and tailings facility not acid forming

  • Archaeological work continues with trenching to start next quarter

The project has a global resource of 97.4 million tonnes at 0.22% tungsten trioxide and 0.023% tin (Inferred and Indicated) at 0.12% tungsten cutoff. The open pit mine reserve contains 34.53 million tonnes at 0.18% tungsten trioxide and 0.03% tin. Wolf aims to produce 350 000 mtu of tungsten trioxide per annum over a mine life of 12 years.

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CEMEX first to launch responsibly–sourced, carbon–labelled cement


CEMEX UK is the first cement company in the world to provide certified carbon labels for its cement using the Carbon Trust's Carbon Reduction Label, demonstrating the company's commitment to reducing the environmental impact of its cement. This carbon label will show that CEMEX cement generates between 17 and 24kg of carbon dioxide per 25kg bag, depending on the product composition. It has also been announced that CEMEX UK's cement division has been certified to the Building Research Establishment (BRE) Framework Standard for the Responsible Sourcing of Construction Products – BES6001 with a score of ‘Very Good’. CEMEX is among the first in the industry to meet the standard. CEMEX UK’S Director of Sustainability, Andy Spencer, stated: ‘Carbon labelling demonstrates the progress and commitment we have made in reducing the carbon associated with our manufacturing process.’


UK Coal announces preliminary financial results for 2009

Open cast coal mining, BGS©NERC

UK Coal, the UK's largest coal producer, has announced increased losses for 2009 because of low coal prices and reduced production. A loss of £129.1m was made for the full year, compared with a loss of £15.6m the previous year. Production of 7.0 million tonnes and total revenue of £316 million have been announced for 2009 compared to 7.8 million tonnes and £392.5 million in 2008. The fall in production was mainly due to geological issues in the deep mines combined with a subdued market price for coal in Europe. Equipment unreliability and failures in the last quarter of 2009 exacerbated these difficulties. Production of 7.6 million tonnes is planned for 2010, 6 million from deep mines and 1.6 million from surface mines. Company chairman David Jones has described 2009 as ‘An extremely challenging year for the group’ but for 2010 the company ‘looks forward to increasing production volumes, and for the business to see the benefit of an improved market price for coal’.

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Scientists experiment with Portland cement for a greener concrete

Cement works, BGS©NERC

British and Indian experts are experimenting with Portland cement in order to develop ‘green’ cement which uses waste materials. This project is a part of the five–year United Kingdom–India Education and Research Initiative which aims to reduce the carbon footprint of cement, which is about five percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. The process of making Portland cement involves heating limestone with clay at high temperatures, which produces approximately one tonne of carbon dioxide for every tonne of cement made. The researchers are replacing the ingredients of Portland cement with waste materials such as fly ash acquired from burning coal, slag from iron works and even rice husks. Dr. Kevin Paine, from the University of Bath’s Architecture and Civil Engineering Department, said ‘Concrete is the second most used material in the world after water, and so reducing the carbon dioxide emissions produced by it could make a real difference to climate change’.


MPA calls for better targeting of ALSF funding

Aggregate, BGS©NERC

New research by the Mineral Products Association (MPA) has revealed that local communities are failing to benefit fully from the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund (ALSF), the main purpose of which is to support community and environmental improvement schemes in areas affected by aggregates extraction. The ALSF was introduced eight years ago and has raised a total of £2500 million during that time. Of this total only £18.95 million, less than 1 per cent, has been allocated to, and spent by, local authorities. The MPA is calling for the ALSF spending on local communities in quarrying areas to be at least 33 per cent and up to 50 per cent of the total annual fund per annum from 2011/12 onwards, and for measures to be introduced to ensure that this funding is used for its intended purpose – to directly benefit local communities in quarrying areas. Simon van der Byl, executive director of the MPA, said ‘We believe that the key use of the Fund should be for local communities and therefore government must focus more resources in this area’.


Hanson produces first low energy asphalt in the UK

Motorway, ©Getty Images

Hanson has become the first company in the UK to produce and lay low energy asphalt (LEA). This could reduce the level of carbon emissions associated with asphalt production by up to 50 per cent. The LEA process allows the material to be produced at temperatures of 95°C, instead of the 170°C required to mix conventional asphalt, giving a reduction in fuel consumption. It involves a process of micro–foaming the bitumen in the asphalt plant mixer and has been used across Europe and in the US for over five years. As well as the huge carbon savings to be gained, the cooler asphalt will have the added advantage of hardening faster, reducing the delay between laying it and having a road surface that is ready to drive on which will minimise disruption to motorists.

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BGS releases World Mineral Production and European Mineral Statistics publications

BGS has released the annual publications World Mineral Production and European Mineral Statistics. World Mineral Production contains production statistics, by country, for the majority of economically important mineral commodities, including ferrous and non–ferrous metals, industrial minerals and hydrocarbons.

Commentary is provided detailing the characteristics, uses, production trends, prices and recent industry events for 11 commodities including: bauxite/alumina/aluminium, coal, cobalt, copper, gold, iron ore, lead, nickel, platinum, uranium and zinc. European Mineral Statistics is the only up–to–date publication dedicated to statistical information about minerals and metals in Europe.

The publication includes production, export and import tables for all EU members and EU candidate countries, plus Norway and Switzerland, in two sections by individual country and by commodity. More than 70 different mineral commodities are included and there is also commentary discussing the different categories of minerals. These publications are available as free downloads or to purchase in hard copy from


Rare earths resources and alternatives report released

Oakdene Hollins Research and Consulting has released a report titled ‘Lanthanide Resources and Alternatives’ commissioned by the Department for Transport (DfT). Lanthanides, or rare earths, are a topic that has generated considerable media interest in the last few years due to supply concerns. The objective of this report was to understand the potential risks associated with the perceived scarcity and geographical concentration of global lanthanide resources on the future mass–manufacture and use of electric vehicles and to identify means of mitigating the risks. This report provides a summary of world reserves and resources, describes the many applications of rare earths, discusses supply and demand issues and considers potential alternative technologies and the environmental impacts of rare earth extraction.

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Needingworth Quarry expansion plans questioned

Gravel aggregate, BGS©NERC

Plans for an extension to the Needingworth Quarry in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire have been proposed which will enable a further three million tonnes of sand and gravel to be extracted. It is suggested that the Bare Fen/West Fen area should be worked as otherwise it may be sterilised by other development, contrary to government policy on minerals safeguarding. Candidates for South East Cambridgeshire have raised concerns about the proposed expansion as the developments would increase the amount of traffic on the roads around the quarry. Labour candidate John Cowan has said that although there is a need for the aggregate ‘The expansion needs to be done in a way that does not have a massive impact on these local communities’.

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