FOUR team members restoring an abandoned surface coal mine are also boosting their qualifications.

They have passed their SVQ Level Two, a key industry endorsement of the knowledge they have built up while working near Muirkirk.

On-site training provided by their employers, Banks Mining, has enabled Charles Black, Andy Hastings, John Murphy and John Linton to achieve pass marks.

All four are based at the Ponesk surface mine restoration project where they have added several specialisms during the day-to-day operation at the site.

This involves operating large scale plant equipment such as dump trucks, excavators and bulldozers.

Banks Mining encourage employees to complete tasks to the highest possible standards while gaining qualifications that improve and quantify their skills.

Plant operation trainer Ewan Cowie, said: “The team at Ponesk has restored an eyesore into a pleasant landscape that the community will be able to use and enjoy.

“As such, it’s essential to us that Banks staff are trained to the highest levels which enables them to carry out their work to the optimum levels of safety and quality.

“Health and safety on the Ponesk site is of paramount importance and the completion of the SVQ qualification helps us maintain confidence in the safety of our workforce.

“Having well trained and skilled operators is key to delivering the safe, responsible and efficient regeneration of the abandoned surface coal mine.”

The team at Ponesk consists largely of people from the surrounding area, many of whomwill transfer across to restore land at the abandoned Spireslack surface mine once work at Ponesk is complete.

Banks Mining was recently successful in landing a major contract at the neighbouring site also left abandoned when former operators, Scottish Coal, went into administration in early 2013.

Operations manager, Jim Donnelly, said: “It’s of the highest importance to us that the workforce is confident in what they do and capable of carrying out their work to highest possible standards.

“We’re committed to ensuring they have a safe and rewarding work environment.”