Coal and Alternative Fuels Update.

As noted in previous reports, the NTET has been working with a number of suppliers seeking to prolong access to our current fuels, as well as identify and trial sources of suitable alternative fuels. 

This is a brief update on the current situation.


The owners of the Ffos-y-Fran mine are progressing with their appeal to the planning consent within the existing site boundary.  This would extend mining for roughly a further 1.7 million tonnes of coal over an additional 2 years.  This is being supported by the NTET.

On the basis that this appeal is successful, work continues to ensure that a suitable supply of Ffos-y-Fran steam coal – washed, graded and bagged – will again become available for the UK Heritage Steam market from the summer and moving forward.

Hargreaves are also continuing to look into the possibility of washing and grading at a different facility to support the earliest return of washed, graded and bagged Ffos-y-Fran steam coal.

Other Coal Availability.

Whilst the war in Ukraine has stopped the incoming supply of Russian coal to the UK, reasonable quantities are available with most distributers and coal merchants.  There are also supplies of Colombian coal and early suggestions of Polish coal also being available in limited quantities.  It is recommended that you speak to your coal merchant or to a national distributer if you require more information on what is available, as it is an ever-changing picture.

Steam Coal Imports.

Whilst it is still early days, a potentially suitable source of Steam Coal has been found abroad.  Progress is being made with an independent importer as to the suitability, cost and quantities that would make it economical.  This should be considered as a feasibility study at this stage and may not prove to be viable, but a broad range of avenues is being explored.

Anecdotal Coal Trials – Diary Sheet Updates.

The coal trials continue and the anecdotal responses, so far, have predominantly focused on manufactured fuels that individuals have purchased to try; some with disappointing results, while other products seem to be working sufficiently well.  A more details report on the specific trials will follow.

The results from further trails on Russian, Kazakhstan, Colombian and Polish coals are awaited, however the feeling from the early feedback seen (provided in different forms) suggest that all of these coals work but produce greater amounts of smoke, particularly on lighting up or heavy firing (sometimes unavoidable) than with Ffos-y-Fran or, indeed, with some of the manufactured fuels.

The NTET is continuing to monitor the situation and will report back as more information becomes available.

Tom Attwood, David Smith, John Durling & Tony Seddon
Technical Services Unit Coals Group.