Britain plans to open new coal mine amidst major criticism over climate goals

Photo by Joey Harris/

Coal extracted to be used for the production of steel and export 

The British government has approved plans to make a new deep coal mine to produce fuel for the steel industry. According to a report by Reuters on Wednesday, December 7, the decision to go ahead with opening the first mine in decades, has drawn major criticism from climate groups as well as the opposition.  

Woodhouse Colliery, also known as Whitehaven coal mine, is located near Whitehaven in Cumbria, England. The report states, the plans of the British government are to extract coking coal used in the steel industry rather than for electricity generation. 

This project was first unveiled in 2014 and has since, come under criticism from even Greta Thunberg and NGO´s such as Greenpeace.  The plan to open the mines, also contradicts a law passed by the British government that requires the country to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. 

Talking about the impact of this decision by the British government, Paul Elkins, Professor of Resources and Environmental Policy at the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources was cited in the article saying, “The mine did not make sense environmentally or economically”. He added, “Approving it also trashes the UK’s reputation as a global leader on climate action and opens it up to well-justified charges of hypocrisy telling other countries to ditch coal while not doing so itself”.  

The report adds, the proposed site for the coal mine is roughly the size of 60 football fields. The plan would require over two years to first build the mine, which was estimated to cost 165 million pounds ($201 million) in 2019. The report also adds, the mine is proposed to be operational for a period of 50 years.

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