UK coal mine decision hangs in the balance
A decision on the UK's first deep coal mine in 30 years hangs in the balance as the government tries to reconcile environmental considerations with economic benefits.
On the day the UK Government will announce renewed commitment to wind power (see Renewable Energy), the Cumbrian Metallurgical Coal project looks at odds with the nation's commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050. Opponents say it would produce 8 milllion tonnes of carbon annually, though supporters point to the project's capability to provide 500 new jobs.
Cumbria County Council has reportedly "resolved to grant planning approval to West Cumbria Mining to develop the Cumbrian Metallurgical Coal Project" - the third time it has sought to rubber stamp the £165m Woodhouse Colliery scheme, which will contain a new underground mine located on a brownfield site near Whitehaven.
Metallurgical coal has been listed as one of 27 critical raw ingredients by the European Union. Once construction of the mine is completed and Woodhouse Colliery moves into the operational phase, the company says it plans to extract and process around 2.7 million tonnes of metallurgical coal per year. It is also focusing on supplying the UK and European steel-making plants, which currently imports around 60 million tonnes per annum from USA, Canada, Russia and Australia.
“Woodhouse Colliery will bring significant local benefits to Whitehaven, Copeland and Cumbria in terms of jobs and investment, at a critical time given the impacts of Covid-19 upon employment and economics both locally and nationally," said Mark Kirkbride, CEO of West Cumbria Mining.
“I am proud to be part of a scheme which will have such a positive impact on the local community as well as the long-term financial benefits the mine will bring to Cumbria and the UK."
The process of developing the mine includes careful thought and consideration towards the design of the surface infrastructure, to minimise the potential impact from noise, dust, and light.
An extensive programme of environmental and ecological surveys has been completed, alongside a programme of exploration, both onshore and offshore, which has proven the presence of high-quality coal for use in the steel industry.
“We remain confident that the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, The Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, will also be able to quickly conclude, as he did so previously, that nothing has changed such that the holding direction can be removed and the final planning permit be issued,” added Kirkbride.
Mining Profile: Gary Nagle, CEO, Glencore
Gary Nagle has spent his career in mining, across two decades, with Glencore – the Anglo-Swiss metals and mining company with a diverse global portfolio. Nagle is a one company man who has experienced the journey of the resources industry from boots on the ground to the boardroom. He will succeed Ivan Glasenberg as Glencore’s CEO in July 2021
Gary Nagle was born in South Africa in 1975 where he earned degrees in commerce and accounting from the University of Witwatersrand, before qualifying as a chartered accountant in 1999. Nagle joined Glencore in 2000 as an asset manager in the coal department. His rise was swift; by 2007 he was named chief executive of the company’s Colombian coal operation, Prodeco.
Following the acquisition of Xstrata in 2013, Nagle moved to run the company’s South Africa-focused alloy assets, before being named head of the company’s global coal assets portfolio in 2018
Building his career by rising through the ranks of Glencore’s coal department Nagles was considered the most likely to succeed Glasenberg due to his asset-focus; mining accounts for a growing share of Glencore’s revenue as it moves away from its origins as a pure trader.
Glencore’s Chairman, Tony Hayward, commented on the appointment: “Gary Nagle has held senior roles in coal and ferroalloys in Colombia, South Africa and Australia. He has been on the Board’s radar for more than several years and was selected following a succession process overseen by the Board. We are confident that he has the right skill set and qualities to lead the Glencore of tomorrow.”
Ivan Glasenberg is retiring from his role as CEO after nearly 20 years at the helm of Glencore which saw him complete one of the largest mining mergers in history, with Xstrata. Looking back on his time at Glencore, the world’s largest commodities trader, Glasenberg reflected: “I am proud of the great company that we have built. Together, we have created one of the world’s largest diversified miners and marketers of commodities. Today, our diversified portfolio uniquely positions us to play an essential role in the global transition to a low-carbon economy.”
Glencore has announced plans to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 by reducing its direct and indirect carbon footprint by 40% by 2035.
Glasenberg has served as mentor to Nagle who has followed a similar career path at Glencore rising to the role of CEO via heading up the company’s global coal business.
“I have worked with Gary since he joined the company twenty years ago,” recalled Glasenberg. “I have always regarded it as a critical part of my job to develop the next generation of leadership at Glencore and I am proud of the strong leadership team that we developed from which we were able to select Gary. I am confident that his leadership, along with the support of the management team, will enable Glencore to take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead and be a strong custodian for my shareholding in the company.”
Looking ahead to the challenges awaiting him, Nagle was full of optimism: “I am grateful for the trust placed in me by the Board and honoured to be appointed CEO at such an exciting time for Glencore. We will continue to deliver value to our shareholders, while operating safely and responsibly.”
Nagle will relocate from Australia to Switzerland to take up his new role.