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Industry news: July 2010

Industry concern at £100 billion loss in capital programme

Construction, BGS©NERC

The Construction Products Association has expressed concern that the reduction in capital spending, which will fall to just 1.25 per cent of GDP, will hold back the pace of the economic recovery. The construction industry is pinning its hopes on the revival of the private sector as the Budget outlines up to £100 billion of cuts in capital investment over the next five years. Michael Ankers, Chief Executive of the Construction Products Association, said 'While there may be some relief that the Chancellor did not make further cuts in capital spending from those already announced by the last government, the impact of what is set out in this Budget should not be underestimated.' Andrew Minson, Executive Director of the Concrete Centre, added ‘This is a tough budget that goes much further than expected. The public sector, which has been an essential source of work for the construction industry during the recession, faces significant cuts. The gamble is whether the Chancellor has created the necessary business environment to encourage the revival of the private sector.’


ATH Resources gets the go-ahead at Netherton

Open cast coal mine, BGS©NERC

ATH Resources plc, the third largest coal producer in the UK, has announced that its application to mine four million tonnes of coal reserves and resources from its proposed Netherton Mine has been approved by the local planning authority in East Ayrshire, Scotland. Following the completion of normal planning formalities, it is anticipated that coal production will commence in the fourth quarter of 2010 and will continue for a period of six years. Tom Allchurch, chief executive of ATH Resources, said 'This planning approval ensures not only the long-term continuation of the Group's coal production, but also generates further employment in East Ayrshire, where we have been a major employer for 12 years. Netherton, which will employ 110 people, is an important cornerstone in the future of our business and the local economy, and we are extremely pleased to secure this important approval.'

Source: [No longer available]

MPA calls for shift in focus of ALSF

Gravel aggregate, BGS©NERC

The Mineral Products Association (MPA) is calling for a shift in the focus of the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund (ALSF) to local communities, which would support the Government's 'localism' agenda by giving people in areas affected by quarrying a greater say over the use of the fund. Nigel Jackson, Chief Executive of the MPA, said: 'In the first eight years of the ALSF from 2002/3 local communities received only 11 per cent of total ALSF spending. This is too little and represents a missed opportunity to improve the links between the industry and local communities affected by aggregate extraction. We believe the share of the ALSF going directly to local communities should be increased by up to between 33 per cent and 50 per cent of the value of the fund.' The MPA has made representations to Government for the ALSF to be retained for as long as the Aggregates Levy itself is paid. However, the MPA is opposed to the Aggregates Levy itself and has requested that the indexation is frozen (this was unfrozen in the recent emergency Budget) and that the quantum of the Levy is reduced to reflect the progress the industry has made since the Levy's inception to reduce its operational and environmental impact. Nigel Jackson said 'We hope that the outcome of the spending review will enable the ALSF to continue to generate sustainability benefits and that there is an opportunity to redirect a significantly higher share of the fund into local communities.'


ATH Resources plc reports interim results

Open cast coal mining, BGS©NERC

ATH Resources plc has released its interim results for the six months ended 4 April 2010. Highlights include:

  • Turnover reduced by four per cent to £34.4 million reflecting weather-affected sales volumes down by 8 eight per cent to 776 000 tonnes
  • Production volumes for the full year are expected to be 60 000 tonnes lower than previously expected at around 1.75 million tonnes
  • Average selling prices increased by five per cent to £44 per tonne
  • Operating profit from core surface mining business of £0.1 million reflects weather-affected sales volumes (2009: £3.5 million)
  • Loss before tax of £2.9 million (2009: Profit before tax £0.1 million)
  • Record level of proved reserves of 6.7 million tonnes at 30 June 2010, an increase of over a third on the 2009 year end, following recent planning successes at the Netherton site (1.9 million tonnes) and Duncanziemere, an extension to the Laigh Glenmuir mine (0.8 million tonnes)

Tom Allchurch, Chief Executive of ATH, said 'The business has taken longer than expected to recover following the unprecedented adverse weather over the autumn and winter period. However, the Group is now operating at expected levels of production and efficiency.'

Source: Mining Journal, 20 April 2010, p30; [No longer available]

Top environmental award for UK concrete

Cement works, BGS©NERC

The UK concrete industry's 'Sustainable Concrete Strategy' has won the 2010 Trade Association Forum (TAF) Best Practice Awards for Environmental Initiative. The awards recognise and celebrate best practice and reward the achievement of trade associations from all industry sectors. The Sustainable Concrete Strategy was developed and implemented by key trade associations and companies within the concrete sector, committing them to a common vision whereby, by 2012, the UK concrete sector will be recognized as the leader in delivering sustainable construction. The Strategy's first report was published last year and provided key industry data across 14 performance indicators against which the concrete industry has committed to be benchmarked against and to improve upon. Andrew Spencer, Chairman of the Sustainable Concrete Forum said 'The Sustainable Concrete Strategy demonstrates the industry’s commitment to transparency and continual improvement. These are not vague promises but a real commitment to action.'


Hanson receives major environmental award

Bricks, BGS©NERC

Hanson has gained a major commendation in the Business Commitment to the Environment (BCE) awards for its low energy, zero waste, soft mud brick factory at Measham in Leicestershire. The awards were founded by Sir Peter Parker in 1975 and recognise businesses that meet the commercial demands of the present without compromising the environment for future generations. Companies receiving awards have clearly demonstrated that they are innovative and ahead of the competition and that corporate responsibility is an integral part of their organisation. Hanson's £50 million brick factory has sustainability and quality at its core and is the most modern and efficient in Europe. It was built on brownfield land and meets the Building Research Establishment's 'very good' environmental standard. Hanson UK's National Marketing Manager Paul Lacey said 'The commendation recognises our commitment to sustainable production while meeting the commercial demands of modern industry.'


New surface drilling programme at South Crofty

South Crofty, BGS©NERC

Western United Mines (WUM) has announced that as part of a strategy to speed up the process of getting their South Crofty mine back into full production and pinpointing exactly where the best mineral deposits are, geologists and engineers will be drilling at specific areas across Cornwall to collect core samples. Final trials are being carried out at WUM's base in Pool on two refurbished surface core drill rigs before they are moved to begin drilling at other sites. WUM owns 150 square kilometres of mineral rights around Cornwall from as far south as the Lizard to land north of Bodmin. As a polymetallic venture, WUM will be set up to extract all valuable minerals mined. The surface drilling programme will initially target an area within a 20km radius of the South Crofty site and will be a permanent part of the mine's operational development rationale. WUM Chief Operations Officer, John Webster, said 'At the moment the area we are working on, compared with the area we could potentially explore, is the size of a postage stamp. To unlock this county's mineral wealth for everyone's benefit we need to expand that area and quickly. These surface drills are the key to our success and to our ability to continue rapidly expanding production.'


Scotgold announces infill and extension drilling results from Cononish

Cononish, BGS©NERC

Scotgold Resources Limited has announced the completion of the first phase of the Company’s Infill and Eastern Extension Drilling Programme at the Cononish Gold and Silver Project near Tyndrum in Scotland. Highlights include:

  • High grade intersections from current infill drilling confirm vein continuity and robustness of the main vein mineralisation, including:
    • Con 10 02 - 15.82g/t Au, 52.6g/t Ag over 1.41m
    • Con 10 05 - 5.00g/t Au, 22.8g/t Ag over 6.16m (including 14.82 g/t Au, 55.5g/tAg over 2.15m)
  • Drilling within Eastern Extension zone indicates additional mineralisation including:
    • EA 02 - 7.84g/t, 12.2g/t Ag over 2.25m (including 15.67g/t Au, 33.8g/t Ag over 0.72m)
  • Mineralisation extends eastwards within a westerly plunging payshoot up to 300 metres beyond previously defined JORC resource

Commenting on the drilling results, Scotgold's CEO, Chris Sangster, said: 'We consider the drilling results to date at Cononish as highly encouraging and supportive of the Company's plans to become Scotland’s first modern commercial gold mine.'

Source: [No longer available]

Cool concrete from CEMEX


CEMEX UK has developed a new ready-mixed concrete mix which is being used in the UK for the first time in the construction of the foundations of the new Terminal Two building at Heathrow Airport. The new mix design incorporates high levels of pulverized fuel ash (pfa) combined with high-range water-reducing admixtures to reduce heat generation in the concrete, thereby minimising thermal gradients in the structure and reducing the risk of early age thermal cracking. CEMEX UK's Technical Director, Steve Crompton, explained the development: 'A traditional concrete mix could easily generate peak concrete temperatures in excess of 700°C, potentially leading to issues with early age thermal cracking. This new mix is an easy-to-place, low-heat concrete. The mix performed even better than expected with the peak temperature recorded on the first pour reaching just 53°C despite being placed on one the warmest days of the year so far.'


UK Oil and Gas Industry: "An Engine for Recovery"

Oil rig, BGS©NERC

Oil & Gas UK has launched its annual economic report, which highlights the role that the UK's offshore oil and gas industry can play in accelerating the country's drive out of recession. The report underlines the substantial contribution which the industry continues to make to the economy as a major source of primary energy supply, jobs, investment, technology and tax revenues. Malcolm Webb, Oil & Gas UK's Chief Executive, said 'As the economy seeks to accelerate out of recession and refocus on manufacturing and technology, the oil and gas industry should be recognised for the important engine for growth that it is. The UK has a clear, comparative advantage in the shape of its oil and gas industry and the country should make the most of the opportunities this presents.'

Source: [No longer available]

Oil strike for Dana Petroleum in North Sea

Oil rig, BGS©NERC

Dana Petroleum has announced the successful appraisal of the Blackbird oil field in the UK Central North Sea. The 20/2a-9 well, operated by Nexen, was drilled in a water depth of approximately 367 feet to a total measured depth of 12 000 feet, targeting a high quality Upper Jurassic oil discovery. The well encountered approximately 330 vertical feet of gross oil-bearing section and an extensive set of wireline log data is being acquired over the reservoir section, following drilling and coring. Preliminary log analysis indicates approximately 75 feet total thickness of good quality oil-bearing reservoir sands. Blackbird is in the same licence area as Ettrick, an oil field which has been producing up to 22 000 barrels of oil per day since August last year. Tom Cross, Dana’s Chief Executive said ‘In the first half of 2010, Dana drilled ten exploration wells making five oil and gas discoveries. In the second half of 2010, Dana’s intensive drilling programme includes a further ten exploration and appraisal wells, targeting additional oil and gas reserves in proven hydrocarbon basins. Blackbird is the first of these wells and the next three are already drilling in the UK, Netherlands and Egypt.’

Source: [No longer available]