A MINING team are celebrating transforming two massive local derelict mines despite environmental challenges.

Having restored over 100 surface coal mines, Banks Mining safely and efficiently restored both Ponesk and Spireslack on behalf of the local planning author ity East Ayrshire Council and the Scottish Mines Restoration Trust (SMRT).

Revamping any surface coal mine into an area which can be enjoyed by members of the local community is a complex process and even more so an abandoned surface mine.

Now Jim Donnelly, operations director at Banks Mining, has revealed how they took on the challenge.

He said: “The team quickly established a strong relationship with the local community by maintaining an open channel of communication with local residents.

“Working with the local communities of nearby Muirkirk and Glenbuck, including the people that live closest to the Ponesk and Spireslack sites, we were able to plan the work to restore the sites so that it caused the least amount of disruption to people’s daily lives, and included their ideas for the restoration where we could too.

“This is our development with care approach.

“A 15-strong, predominantly local, highly skilled and experienced team worked to make the vital landform, visual and safety improvements required following the site’s abandonment in 2013 when previous operators, Scottish Coal, went into administration.”

In just over two years, the team transformed the abandoned surface mines into public spaces and include a new created network of footpaths and tracks.

It took reorganising more than six million tonnes of rock and soil and reshaping the overburden mounds on the site to remove steep sided slopes to create a safer landform.

Jim added:”The highly skilled team were able to take the unsightly surface mines and transform them into what we see today – an attractive landscape in keeping with the surrounding Muirkik / Glenbuck valley.”

Cheryl Hynd, Muirkirk Community Association member says : “ T he Ponesk and Spireslack sites, have now been fully restored by the Banks Mining team.”