The Anonymous Widower

Whitehaven Deep Coal Mine Plan Moves Step Closer

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the first three paragraphs.

The first new deep coal mine in the UK for decades has moved a step closer after councillors unanimously backed the plans.

The West Cumbria Mining Company wants to mine next to the site of the former colliery in Whitehaven that shut three decades ago.

The Woodhouse Colliery could create 500 jobs, but objectors have said mining will contribute to global warming.

I am not normally a friend or supporter of coal, but there might be a different agenda behind this mine.

The coal that will be mined at Woodchurch Mine, will not be burnt in a power station or steam engine, as it is being mined for a different purpose. It is high-quality metallurgical coal, Wikipedia says this about metallurgical coal.

Metallurgical coal is a grade of low-ash, low-sulfur and low-phosphorus coal that can be used to produce high grade coke. Coke is an essential fuel and reactant in the blast furnace process for primary steelmaking. The demand for metallurgical coal is highly coupled to the demand for steel. Primary steelmaking companies will often have a division that produces coal for coking, to ensure stable and low-cost supply

Currently, there is a shortage of this product and Europe import several million tonnes a year.

It also appears that the Cumbrian metallurgical coal is of a high quality and low in impurities.

In Wikipedia, there is an entry for the HIsarna ironmaking process.

This process is being developed by the Ultra-Low Carbon Dioxide Steelmaking (ULCOS) consortium, which includes Tata Steel and the Rio Tinto Group. Reduction in carbon-dioxide produced by the process compared to traditional steel-making are claimed to be as high as fifty percent.

This figure does not include carbon-capture to reduce the carbon-dioxide still further.

However, looking at descriptions of the process, I feel that applying carbon-capture to the HIsarna steelmaking process might be a lot easier, than with traditional steelmaking.

If you are producing high quality steel by a process like HIsarna, you want to make sure that you don’t add any impurities from the coal, so you have a premium product.

So is Cumbrian metallurgical coal important to the HIsarna process?

I obviously don’t know and it is not even certain that HIsarna will eventually become a mainstream way of producing high-quality steel.

But you can be assured that there are other companies trying to find the Holy Grail of producing high quality steel with low impurities and without creating masses of carbon-dioxide.

The company or organisation, who cracks this one will make a fortune ethically, as we’ll always need lots of high quality steel.

Conclusion

Mining coal in Cumbria may seem a retrograde step, but it could be central to cutting carbon-dioxide emissions in high-quality steel-making.

I’ll be watching this development with interest.

March 20, 2019 - Posted by | World | , ,

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