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Strong financial performance from The Banks Group

Simon Fisher

Group reports combined profits of £18.3 million for year ended 30 September 2019

CO. Durham-headquartered energy and property firm The Banks Group have reported combined profits across all of their businesses of £18.3 million for the financial year ending 30 September 2019, up from £9.5 million in the previous financial year. Group sales of £109 million were also up from £99 million in the previous period.

Simon Fisher, group finance director at The Banks Group, said: ‘The board believes that, despite the potential impact of COVID-19, the Group will be in a good position to maximize the opportunities available from all the markets in which we operate provided new mines are consented to replace those nearing completion.’

While year-on-year coal volumes were down 8%, Banks Mining saw turnover increase from £44.7 million in 2018 to £47 million last year as a result of stronger market prices for coal sales to the UK industrial sector.

Banks Mining are still awaiting a decision from Secretary of State the Rt Hon. Robert Jenrick MP on whether operations at their proposed Highthorn surface mine, in Northumberland, can proceed, as well as a decision from Newcastle City Council for a new mine at Dewley Hill, in Newcastle, and a decision from Durham County Council on plans for a small extension to their Bradley surface mine in Co. Durham.

These new mines are urgently needed to replace the Brenkley Lane, Shotton and Bradley mines that are now nearing completion, and to maintain Group employment at 348.

Mr Fisher (pictured) continued: ‘Our mining business continues to transition sales away from electricity generation to industrial customers in the steel, cement and brick-manufacturing industries where no viable alternative low-carbon sources are yet available.

‘Over 60% of coal sales in 2019 were to industrial and heritage customers, and with the phase-out of coal for use in UK electricity generation, this proportion is anticipated to grow to 100%.’

Meanwhile, the Group’s Renewables businesses enjoyed a good year, with the Kype Muir and Middle Muir wind farms in Scotland coming on stream after two years of construction to add 139MW of green electricity generation capacity and to boost Banks Renewables’ total generation capacity to 224MW.

Sales during 2019 improved to £37.9 million from £14.6 million in the previous year, and further increases are expected in 2020 with a full year of energy generation from Kype Muir and Middle Muir.

Elsewhere, Banks Property’s year-on-year sales fell from £30.3 million in 2018 to £16.2 million last year.

Mr Fisher said: ‘A legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic will be for policymakers to reinforce the importance of maximizing UK raw material supplies across all sectors, including industrial users of coal and fireclay, where this can be done economically.

‘We have consistently demonstrated that our mining business has the capacity to be at the forefront of meeting this need with a fraction of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with importing these essential minerals from overseas. The UK currently imports 86% of its need for coal even though the extra greenhouse gas emissions caused by dragging this coal halfway around the planet are enormous.

‘UK industry will continue to need essential minerals like coal and fireclay to manufacture raw steel and cement, and to make bricks for house building, for at least the next 10–15 years. There is no environmental or economic sense whatsoever in sourcing supplies from thousands of miles away when they are readily available at home.’

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