UK Coal operates two deep mines.
Our deep mines produce over 3m tonnes of coal per year and use some of the most advanced mining techniques employed anywhere in the world.
UK Coal’s two deep mines produce around 60,000 tonnes of coal a week and most of this is used to generate electricity for the UK market. Our two collieries, Kellingley and Thoresby, use modern mining techniques and have benefitted from major investment in recent years.
Deep mining operations take place 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with each mine employing a highly skilled and experienced workforce.
Our deep mines
Kellingley Colliery is the largest remaining deep mine in Yorkshire and began production in April 1965. Up to 900 tonnes of coal an hour can be brought to the surface through one of two 800 metre-deep shafts. The Beeston coal seam, which is currently being mined, is predicted to last until at least 2015, after which further reserves will be accessible in the Silkstone coal seam.
Thoresby Colliery in Nottinghamshire dates back to 1925 when two shafts were sunk 691 and 688 metres below ground to the Top Hard coal seam. Current operations in the Deep Soft coal seam are approximately 750 metres below ground and the mine’s reserves are expected to last until at least 2019.
To create a panel of coal in preparation for mining, two parallel tunnels are driven through a coal seam and joined together at the end via a third tunnel to create a coal face which can be over 300 metres long.
A piece of heavy duty cutting equipment, called a ‘shearer,’ is then installed to move along the coal face in strips, breaking the coal which falls onto a conveyor belt and is transported out of the mine.
This machinery operates under the cover of large hydraulic roof supports called 'chocks'. Up to 300 individual roof supports can be used on each face and these have to be moved after each strip has been cut to advance the machinery in readiness for the next cut.
The process is repeated as operations ‘retreat’ from the far end of the panel back to the beginning of the access tunnels until the face is exhausted and no more coal can be mined. While the face teams mine the coal from one panel, others drive the tunnels to prepare the next panel of coal to ensure continuous production all year round.