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Wednesday, 8 August, 2001, 16:31 GMT 17:31 UK
Full steam ahead for old mine
Forest train
Dean Forest Railway could be used to transport coal
A colliery that closed 40 years ago is poised to produce coal once again - from its slag heaps.

The recycled waste could be carried out of the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire on a preserved steam railway.

The scheme involves extracting fine particles of coal from the slag heaps at the old Eastern United Colliery near Cinderford.

The "fines", as they are known, will be used as fuel for power stations.

Forest miner

It's thought up to 30% of the colliery's slag heaps consist of coal fines - an unusually high figure.

When the mine closed in 1959, it was not considered viable to wash out the particles.

Improved technology now makes it possible.

The five-year reclamation project has been organised by Nick Ball, who continues on the Forest's unique tradition of freelance mining.

Forest trees
The slag heaps will be replaced by natural habitat
He said: "It just looks like dust and it's difficult to imagine this is rich in coal.

"It is actually one of the richest types, very volatile and low in sulphur - ideal for power stations."

He hopes to transport the coal fines to Whitecroft for loading on the Dean Forest Railway.

It can then be taken by train through Lydney and on to the main line.

Only one other preserved railway transports commercial cargo.

Wildlife habitat

A spokesman for the railway said the train plan would have to wait until a bridge had been repaired, probably next year.

The extraction of the low-sulphur particles will be carried out by a South Wales firm, Jeesons.

Up to nine jobs are expected to be created in the five-year-project.

Forestry staff plan to establish habitat for butterflies and invertebrates when the slag has been removed from the two-hectare site.

See also:

28 Oct 00 | Wales
Tales from when coal was king
27 Jun 00 | Wales
History recorded in miners' art
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