[Re: Battle for Cumbria coal mine, Nov 17]
The focus on the word “coal” as something bad sidelines the fact that the coal from this mine is metallurgical coal: not for making power but to make steel.
I wonder if we understand how much we rely on steel. Look around you now: the train or car that you’re in, the train lines and the sign posts, your furniture (your chair, your table, the bookshelf, the hinges on your door, the locks and all the screws that hold them together), your bath, your shower, your sink, your cooking pans, your cutlery, the zip on your bag, the manhole outside your house and the bicycle racks, the bus stops, the street lights, the wind turbines. And, of course, the steel that may be integral to the building you are in.
There was much discussion at the public inquiry about hydrogen replacing metallurgical coal in steel making and the process being in its infancy – it relies on green hydrogen to be environmentally friendly, and the steel produced is not of the quality needed in every situation. Perhaps we can replace the steel in our cars with plastic, but this would also need to be “environmentally friendly”.
The coal mine itself, from what I heard, would be “net zero” both in terms of CO2 and the more damaging methane. I understood that the 8.4m tonnes of CO2 reference relates to the steel making rather than the metallurgical coal mining; currently this type of coal is imported from the US to Europe and the mines there cannot claim “net zero”.