North East expertise is being called upon to help the Chinese mining industry manage its sites more safely, responsibly and efficiently.
Regional employer Banks Mining was asked by SAWS, the Chinese State Administration of Work Safety, to share its practical experience and ideas on how it operates within the stringent UK safety regime, and how it strives to operate its surface mines in a safe, responsible and efficient manner.
Banks Mining’s health and safety manager, Christian Adkins, spent a day working with 18 senior directors from across nine different Chinese cities and provinces on how the family-owned employer proactively tackles health and safety issues at its surface mine sites, works with the relevant authorities to maintain compliance with all the relevant regulations, and empowers its employees to work as safely as possible through the provision of comprehensive training and development support. The event has been judged so successful that a second delegation of senior SAWS personnel will be visiting the UK in October for a further day with members of the Banks Mining team.
Mr Adkins said: “Being asked to deliver a second session later in the year suggests the delegates found the information we were sharing useful. We’re pleased to be contributing toward improving the safety levels to which our industry operates around the world.”
Founded in County Durham in 1976, The Banks Group has worked and fully restored 110 surface mines across northern England and Scotland, and currently employs around 200 people at its Shotton and Brenkley Lane surface mines in Northumberland.
The company is currently waiting to learn if its Highthorn scheme – to start an open-cast mine near Widdrington – will go ahead, with the fate of the scheme being decided by a planning inspector.
In 2014, Banks Mining set up its own bespoke licensing and training scheme, which extended the training opportunities available to more than 250 operational employees and provided a framework through which skills and career development opportunities could be enhanced to the benefit of both employees and the business.
As part of the project, Banks Mining invested in both a full-time trainer to lead it and new on-site training facilities at the Shotton surface mine.