Company extends staff training and development investment at North East surface mines
BANKS Mining are continuing to support the development of their skilled workforce, despite a question mark over whether their future operational plans in the region can be progressed.
The family-owned firm has invested in making its Shotton surface mine near Cramlington an official test centre for the National Plant Operators Registration Scheme (NPORS), one of the UK’s leading accreditation and registration bodies, which offers industrial qualifications across a wide range of sectors, including construction, agriculture, ports and marine.
Banks Mining, who have been waiting for 28 months for a government decision on whether their proposed Highthorn surface mine in Northumberland can go ahead, have just announced a first round of consultation on up to 24 job losses at their Brenkley Lane surface mine, near Newcastle, and say a further 220 skilled North East jobs are at risk due to delays in planning decisions.
Gavin Styles, managing director of Banks Mining, said: ‘We and our highly skilled workforce have unnecessarily been left in the lurch by the Government’s failure to make a decision on our Highthorn scheme, even though British industry undeniably still needs coal and fireclay for a range of essential manufacturing processes.
‘We’re continuing – without any support from the public purse – to support and invest in our people to ensure their certifications remain fully up to date and transferable, even though the threat to their jobs and our operations is a direct result of our government’s failure to take responsibility for this long-overdue planning decision.
‘Making our Shotton site an accredited NPORS testing centre means the qualifications our team members achieve have the extra credibility of being recognized right across the construction and extractive industries, and enhances what they will have offer other employers if we are no longer able to employ them.
‘Without being able to progress new sites like Highthorn, all these local training and development opportunities, along with the 250 jobs sustained by our mining operations, will simply and unjustly disappear.’
The first four members of the Shotton team have now successfully completed an NPORS recognized qualification after undertaking assessments on some of the different types of plant machinery used at the site.
Keith Milligan, Andy Scott, Tyler Lloyd and Charles Barnes have all gained a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card, a nationally recognized accreditation for construction sites which demonstrates each holder’s status as a competent plant operator.
Several more members of the Banks Mining team, including employees from the Brenkley Lane and Bradley surface mines, are scheduled to undergo NPORS assessments at Shotton in the coming weeks, while trainers Ewan Cowie and David Smith have qualified as NPORS test examiners as part of the project.
Plant operator Keith Milligan said: ‘The NPORS qualification covered a wide range of workplace and safety processes that are essential for the work we’re doing now and will also help us find work elsewhere in the future if we need to.
‘We live in an area of high unemployment, and not being able to work the Highthorn scheme will have a serious impact, not just directly on us, but also on the dozens of local businesses that supply us who’ll suddenly have to deal with losing one of their biggest customers.’
Keith Tarn, group human resources manager at The Banks Group, added: ‘Our first four NPORS candidates are all highly impressive operators and the skills they have developed and refined while working towards this assessment will help them right through their working lives.’