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Industry news: December 2010

Sand and gravel could be quarried at Holdfast

Sand and gravel extraction, BGS©NERC

Cemex UK is applying for planning permission to extract sand and gravel from land at Manor Farm in Holdfast, Worcestershire. It is proposed that the project would run for three years plus an additional 12 months to restore the site. If the plans are approved sand and gravel would be extracted during three or four campaigns a year, each lasting between four and six weeks.

Each campaign would involve stripping of overburden, the formation or removal of bunds and extraction of sand and gravel using a tracked excavator and two or three dumpers. Material is to be stored below ground, adjacent to a temporary wharf, constructed to allow the transportation of material by barge along the River Severn to Ryall House Farm Quarry for processing and onward sale.

Cemex is keen to stress that material will not leave the site by road and that for the majority of the year, the only activity taking place will be the loading of barges. The land, including two ponds that are likely to be created by the works, will be returned to agricultural use after completion of the project.

Source: [No longer available]

ATH Resources agree new sales contract with EDF Energy

ATH Resources, one of the UK's largest coal producers, has announced a new sales contract to supply EDF Energy, one of the UK's largest home and business energy suppliers, with 350,000 tonnes of coal. The coal will be supplied at prices linked to international market indices, with supply commencing immediately and ending in December 2012.

According to Alistair Black, Chief Executive of ATH Resources, the contract is an important development for the company; it will increase average sale prices at the same time as the Group continues to supply the remainder of its fixed price contracts. It is planned that existing fixed price contracts will start to be phased out from March 2012.

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Mitsubishi plans to invest £100 million in a new green energy centre in Scotland

Wind turbine, BGS©NERC

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), through its subsidiary Mitsubishi Power Systems Europe (MPSE), has chosen Scotland as the location for its UK research and development centre. The centre will develop offshore wind technologies, with the aim of producing the world's leading offshore wind turbine.

Mitsubishi has also acquired Edinburgh University's Artemis Intelligent Power (AIP) as part of the deal, along with a commitment to establish the MPSE Centre for Advanced Technology (MCAT) within the Edinburgh area. It is estimated that about 200 jobs will be created as part of the deal.

MPSE and AIP will collaborate to deliver unique hydraulic technology in a large offshore turbine. According to Alex Salmond, Scotland's First Minister, Scotland is already a leader in the development of green energy and boasts world-class research facilities that are pioneering green technologies used to tackle climate change.

It is hoped the project will enhance the UK's position as the destination of choice for investment in low carbon technology. Charles Hendry, UK Minister of State for Energy, hopes that the UK will become the world's number one location for the research, development and deployment of offshore wind turbines.


Tarmac pledges rail commitment with new wagon deal

Tarmac train, BGS©NERC

Tarmac has increased its capacity to deliver aggregates by rail to locations in central London and the South East following investment in a new fleet of high-tech rail wagons by DB Schenker, the transportation and logistics company.

12 new freight wagons, manufactured by Nottinghamshire-based company WH Davis, are capable of hauling over 75 tonnes of material and have been put into immediate operation. The wagons will allow Tarmac to deliver its products more easily and efficiently to locations in the heart of London and the South East, reducing the need for road-based transport.

During 2009 Tarmac transported over 2.5 million tonnes of aggregate, lime and cement using its national rail freight network – reducing carbon emissions by 7,000 tonnes.

Executive director of Tarmac South East region, Mark Joel, explained that these wagons formed part of Tarmac's long-term commitment to using its rail network in order to improve delivery efficiency and reduce its environmental impact.


Decline in the number of landfill sites continues

Landfill site, © Getty Images

According to an annual report published by BDS Marketing Research Ltd more than 30 landfill sites have closed in the past year. This is in addition to nearly 50 sites that have closed in the last 18 months.

The BDS report claims that the closures are due to a number of factors including: an increase in the landfill tax; sites completing their void; the recession; and development of alternative waste treatment options diverting waste away from landfill.

According to BDS estimates, WRG is still the largest national landfill company operating in an area that extends from the South East to the North West. Biffa is the second largest company followed by Viridor: together these three companies account for an estimated 45% of the landfill market. Veolia, SITA and Cory also hold major stakes in the industry; BDS estimates that the top six landfill companies represent 70% of the market.


New mine proposal could create 80 jobs

UK Coal is seeking planning consent to extract 2.2 million tonnes of coal from a 208 hectare site at Hoodsclose, Whittonstall, in Northumberland. If plans are given the go-ahead by Northumberland County Council, up to 80 jobs would be created and approximately 500,000 tonnes of fireclay suitable for brick making would be extracted over a six-year period.

The coal designated for recovery is a combination of power station fuel and coking coal suitable for the steel industry, equating to the annual energy needs of around 1.5 million homes.

An additional nine-month period will be required to complete progressive restoration of the site including: the planting of several miles of new hedgerow; the creation of 150 acres of new native species woodland; the creation of marshland; together with a 10-year nature conservation management programme.


MPA releases 2010 sustainability development report

According to the Sustainable Development Report 2010 recently published by the Mineral Products Association (MPA), industry has continued to invest in sustainability and has improved its performance in a number of key areas, despite difficult market conditions.

According to MPA Chief Executive, Nigel Jackson, industry is delivering sustainable solutions not just by contributing to targets but by being the prime driver in many cases. He also added that there are some areas in which improvements to sustainability are being delayed, in particular, those related to the mineral planning system.

The report reveals the mineral product industry's commitment to sustainable development and its willingness to support the UK Government in making this a top priority. It also provides evidence of how the built environment is dependent on mineral products and how industry is contributing to the challenges arising from climate change, as well as leading research in the fields of recycling, restoration and biodiversity.

Report highlights include:

  • A 58 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by the cement industry between 1990 and 2009.
  • The use of recycled aggregates has increased to a market share of 28 per cent compared with 10 per cent in 2000.
  • The overall use of aggregates per capita in Great Britain is 30 per cent lower than the European average. Cement use in Great Britain is 60 per cent lower than the European average on a per capita basis.
  • Industry has planted over 313,000 tress and 14.4 kilometres of hedgerows in 2009 compared with 129,000 trees and 9 kilometres of hedgerows the previous year.


Recent publications and presentations

Paul Lusty, Economic Geologist at the British Geological Survey, recently gave a presentation on 'Critical metals and rare earth elements' at the eighth UK Mines and Money in December 2010. The presentation provided an overview of critical raw materials and the rare earth elements including: economic importance and applications; market factors; global production trends; foreign supply policy and developing new capacity.


The US Department of Energy (DoE) has recently published a report looking at rare metals and materials required for a clean energy economy. The report focuses specifically on materials required for: permanent magnets used in wind turbines; advanced batteries used in electric vehicles; thin-film semiconductors used in photovoltaic power systems and phosphors used in high-efficiency lighting systems. The conclusion outlines three main goals for the critical materials market: 1) to achieve globally diverse supplies; 2) to identify appropriate substitutes and 3) to improve recycling, reuse and efficient use of critical materials.

Source: [No longer available]