A MASSIVE earth sculpture created as part of a North East opencast coal operation has been displaying her ample charms to leading figures from the international mining industry.
Delegates attending the annual EU-India Coal Working Group conference were brought to the region to view the stunning £3m Northumberlandia artwork – the 400m-long figure of a naked, reclining female built at the Shotton opencast site near Cramlington. The conference is a forum for senior mining industry personnel from all over the world to discuss the latest developments in the business and learn from each other’s experiences.
This year’s event in Leeds featured speakers from the Indian Government, the European Commission and mining businesses in Asia, Australia, Germany, Spain and the UK.
It was attended by representatives of Banks Mining, which operates the Shotton site and funded the Northumberlandia earth sculpture along with the Blagdon Estate.
Banks planning director Philip Baker, and projects director Barney Pilgrim, gave a presentation at the two-day event on best practice in surface mining, environmental standards and the way in which the company works with local communities.
Delegates then travelled up to Northumberland to take a tour of the 300-hectare Shotton site, and get a close-up look at the so-called Goddess of the North, which was formed from 1.5m tonnes of rock, clay and soil extracted from the mine.
Philip Baker said: “Banks is acknowledged as an industry leader when it comes to the environmental practices we develop and the community work we undertake, and it was a real honour for us to be invited to talk about them in front of such a high-level audience.
“The mining industry operates on a far greater scale in many parts of the world than we work to in the UK, especially in India where it’s not uncommon for up to 55m tonnes of coal to be taken from the biggest surface mines in a year. That compares to the 800,000 tonnes that come from the Shotton site in 12 months.
“The UK mining industry faces different challenges to its peers in China, India and Australia, particularly around the community and environmental aspects of their operations. We hope that our international colleagues were able to get some ideas from us about addressing the challenges in these areas that they will undoubtedly face in the future.”
Northumberlandia, which was designed by landscape artist Charles Jencks and built over two and a half years, was opened by the Princess Royal a month ago.
It is taller than an eight-storey building at its highest point and more than seven times the size of a football pitch. It is surrounded by water features in a 47-acre country park, and is expected to attract 200,000 visitors a year, and generate £1m for the local economy.