Ambitious plans to create a mining operation in Cumbria supplying coking coal to the UK’s steelmaking industry have edged a step closer following a multi-million pound private investment deal secured by a Newcastle law firm.
West Cumbria Mining has received £14.7m of private equity cash to support the next stage of its Whitehaven Coking Coal Project, which aims to create the mining operation in the Cumbrian town, potentially creating 500 jobs.
The company’s plans include a large underground coking coal operation at the site which will extend offshore, with access via onshore drifts and, once complete, the mine will produce around three million tonnes a year of coking coal, to supply the steelmaking industry in the UK and across Europe.
The Whitehaven Coking Coal Project (WCCP) is a 200 sq km area located close to the Haig Colliery in Whitehaven, from which millions of tonnes of coking coals were extracted from 1914 until it closed in 1986, much of it beneath the seabed up to five miles offshore.
Law firm Ward Hadaway, which is headquartered in Newcastle with offices in Leeds and Manchester, has advised on the £14.7m investment in the company by Australian-managed private equity fund EMR Capital Resources Fund 1, LP, which will drive the plans forward.
Funding from EMR Capital Resources, which specializes in investing in mining operations, will be used to finance an onshore and offshore drilling campaign in the coalfield and to complete a preliminary feasibility study into the plans. Work is planned during the rest of 2014 and the first half of 2015.
West Cumbria Mining chief executive Mark Kirkbride said: “The support of such a high quality institutional investor, in EMR, is testament to the strong fundamentals of the project and its potential to become the next substantial, low cost, coking coal mining operation in the UK.”
Corporate partner Gavin Maddison led the law firm’s team advising West Cumbria Mining on the investment, with support from corporate associate Catherine Hinchliffe.
He said: “We are delighted to have assisted West Cumbria Mining on this significant investment in the company from a leading player in this specialist sector.
“The company has exciting plans for what would be a major development in the Whitehaven area and this investment will help to advance those ambitions further.”
EMR Capital Resources Fund 1 is an Australian-managed mining-focused private equity fund targeting around $400m in funds under management by EMR Capital GP 1 Limited.