WAKEFIELD CATHEDRAL is hosting an exhibition inviting people to buy shares in a new colliery in Crofton which is expected to start mining in September – 30 years after the end of the Miners’ Strike.
It would be the first mine to open in more than 25 years and is being set up as a workers’ cooperative which will see profits reinvested in social enterprises locally.
It is expected to cost around £11.5m –and is being backed with a community share issue which the Coalfield Community Investment Society Ltd (CCIS), have set up to raise funds for the mine. They hope it will raise £1m by the end of June.
Toby White, CCIS director will be in the Cathedral all week this week with an exhibition to explain the project and to talk to people about the project.
New Crofton Co-Op Colliery is expected to mine around 200,000 tonnes of coal a year, creating 50 jobs and supplying to the power industry. The mine is expected to produce five millions tonnes of coal worth £300m over its estimated 22 year life span.
The Crofton project is in part modelled on the Mondragon Corporation based in Spain’s Basque region. Started in the 1950s by a priest and five graduates of a technical college initially to produce paraffin heaters, today it is the country’s seventh biggest company, employing more than 80,000 people across 289 different co-operatives.
CCIS Director Toby Wright said: “The company will be owned by workers. Profits will be shared between workers and re-invested into other co-operative businesses.
“We wanted to do a community share issue because people were asking us how they could get involved and support the project, “ he added.
The Crofton colliery will be a drift mine which will use sloping tunnels to extract coal from shallow seams. The drift mining technique has lower costs than traditional deep mines, which have vertical shafts sunk hundreds of metres below the ground.
Jonathan Clarke, one of the Co-operatives founding members is pictured here at the site in Crofton, said: "We’ve already done a lot of work with the community because we always knew this project was much more than just about coal.
It’s about people and it’s about using business to make a difference.”
Jonathan said: “We had hoped to break ground this spring, but the logistics of getting the finance in place have taken a little longer than we thought.
“However, we are 95 per cent there and the plan now is to be on site by September and launching the Coalfield Community Investment Society is a key part of the bigger picture, “ he said.
Despite no advertisements being posted, the co-operative has already received in excess of 200 applications from former and current miners for the 50 or so posts which will be available and they have also secured a buyer for the 600,000 tonnes of coal which will be
Toby White, one of CCIS’s directors will be in the Cathedral all week to explain the project. For more details visit www.ccis.uk.com