PLANS have been unveiled to produce about an extra million tonnes of coal at two North-East mines that would safeguard about 200 jobs.

Banks Mining says it wants to increase work at its Shotton surface mine, in south-east Northumberland, and its Brenkley Lane surface mine, in Newcastle.

The firm says it has now identified a three hectare area at Brenkley Lane, where it wants to mine more than 400,000 tonnes of coal, and two more areas on its Shotton site.

Banks say the Brenkley Lane work will not need an extension of its current operational timescale, with the site due to be restored by 2021, and revealed about 550,000 tonnes of coal would be extracted from Shotton, with coaling completed by October 2017.

Planning applications are expected to be submitted to Northumberland County Council and Newcastle City Council later this year.

Mark Dowdall, Banks’ environment and community director, said: “Coal will remain a central part of the UK’s energy mix for the foreseeable future, and these sites will allow us to continue long-term investment in jobs, the supply chain and communities.”

The plans come after County Durham coal mining firm Hargreaves Services revealed plans to create up to 1,000 jobs and open new mines.

The Esh-Winning based fuel and transport group has secured a £42m cash injection from shareholders to fund the acquisition of rival mining operations and develop new sites to increase production by up to three million tonnes.

Next month, it will announce details of two North-East locations that have been identified as potential mines.