Project Team

Latest News & Events

WCM joins ‘All Things Engineering Fair’ at Lakes College

On February 5th, Peter Altounyan, WCM’s Technical Director (left) and Jacob Armstrong, Mine Planner (right) visited Lakes College in Workington to attend their ‘All Things Engineering’ fair hosted by Inspira.

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Coal for Steel

Coal for Steel

Providing a responsibly mined, high quality, critical raw material to the UK and European steel industry

WCM Sustainability Fund

WCM Sustainability Fund

Our commitment to carbon offsetting is a core part of our Corporate Social Responsibility policy forming a key element of our Sustainability Fund.

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Mark Kirkbride
Chief Executive Officer

Mark has more than 26 years’ experience in the mining and civil engineering industries, primarily in underground construction and operations and has worked on a wide range of mine developments, operational mines, tunnelling and heavy civil engineering construction projects. His mining expertise includes deep shaft sinking, hard and soft rock tunnel developments and production operations.

Mark has also held a series of leadership roles within a wide range of specialist businesses. These roles have incorporated strategic development, project financing, mergers/acquisitions and divestments.

Mark holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Mining Engineering and a Master of Philosophy in Geomechanics, both from Camborne School of Mines. He is a Fellow of the UK Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and a Chartered Engineer.

Simon Zanker
Operations Director

Simon is a highly qualified and accomplished Mining Engineer, with over 36 years’ experience in mining having commenced his career as an underground worker on both the coal face and in mine development before becoming the Colliery Manager at Hargreaves Maltby Mine. Having experience in some of the most arduous mining conditions, Simon has introduced changes in working practices which have increased efficiency and productivity from underground coal production units.  Simon held the position of Mining Operations Director for Hargreaves Industrial Services Ltd before joining WCM in 2018.

Helen Davies
Head of Communications

Helen has spent the last six years leading all of the communications and PR aspects at WCM and has been a key member of the team delivering planning.

With the majority of her career having been spent in the City within the Lloyd’s of London reinsurance broking environment and property market, she gained valuable experience working for both large corporate organisations and small boutique broking houses in a variety of client facing roles.

Richard Round 
Interim Finance Director

Richard has a successful track record in senior finance and leadership roles in a range of quoted and private companies. Most recently Richard, as CEO, led the strategy and ultimate sale of the largest independent hydro-energy developer in the UK, Green Highland Renewables. Richard now holds a portfolio of Non-Executive and advisory roles, including Chairman of Cyberhawk Innovations and Non-Executive Director at Anglo Asian Mining plc.

Previously, Richard was Acting Chief Executive at quoted Novera Energy plc where he led the sale of the landfill gas, wind and hydro group; prior to this he held a series of finance director roles in the coal, mining and energy sectors, and has specific knowledge and experience in the UK coal sector.

Peter Altounyan
Technical Director

Peter is a Chartered Mining Engineer and Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Mining and Metallurgy with more than 40 years’ experience working in both the UK and International underground coal mining sectors. Before joining West Cumbria Mining, he was Technical Director at Golder Associates UK, being heavily involved with a wide range of new and existing underground coal mining projects.  Peter brings a wealth of practical and technical knowledge and experience to WCM, which has proven invaluable in driving the project forwards.

Alexander Garcia-Gonzales
Head of Technical Services

Alexander joined West Cumbria Mining as a Mining Engineer, from an established career providing advice and technical expertise to the underground mining industry. He has worked with numerous underground mines worldwide, to successfully implement effective rock bolting technology and ground monitoring systems, to improve safety, productivity and efficiency.

Alexander played a key part in the production and completion of WCM’s Definitive Feasibility study in Spring 2019.

Julie Rayson
Office Manager

Julie was born and educated in Whitehaven and has a strong and proven background in office management with over 35 years of experience within administrative and financial positions. Her extensive voluntary work in the community resulted in her being named Copeland Person of the Year in the 2018 Community Hero Awards. Julie is the first point of contact in the Woodhouse Colliery Project office and works directly with the Operations Director.

Jacob Armstrong
Mine Planner

Jacob joined West Cumbria Mining in 2017 as a graduate from Camborne School of Mines and has a bachelor’s degree in Mining Engineering. He has been instrumental in helping to develop the technical economic model and its integration into the financial model. He has worked extensively in mine planning and scheduling, using Deswik software to analyse many different scenarios and iterations of the mine and feeding this information into the financial model.

Henry Coomber
Technical Assistant

Henry joined WCM in February 2018 as an intern and following his six-month placement, became a full-time member of the WCM team.  Henry works alongside the Technical Team, researching data and writing reports and documents including studies on seismicity.

Henry actively participates in the WCM mentoring programme and is currently learning more about the corporate finance function and strategic business planning.

Dennis Rowland
Project Geologist

Dennis completed his bachelor’s degree in Geological Sciences (Industrial) at the University of Leeds. He gained experience in geological research and modelling in the UK  and has worked on exploration programmes in Australia. He has been actively involved with the exploration phase of the project at WCM and provides geological support for the Technical Team.


Jasmine Nock
Training and Development Coordinator

Jasmine is the WCM training lead, supporting our pre-registration, engagement, apprenticeship and employee development programmes. She graduated from Camborne School of Mines in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Applied Geology and then went on to complete a postgraduate certificate of education in 2017. As a qualified geography teacher, Jasmine has developed skills which enable her to communicate effectively with both training suppliers and job applicants.

Edward McLaughlin
Project Support Technician

Edward who was born and educated in Whitehaven, has extensive knowledge of the local area. His wealth of practical experience is ideally suited to the role of managing the WCM fleet of vehicles as well as maintaining the office and Haig Museum site.



Kevin Murphy
Programme Management Consultant

Kevin is an experienced project management professional.  During his career he has completed a number of large-scale projects across a variety of industries. Kevin uses appropriate management methods and tools to ensure subcontractors know their remit and projects are delivered to time and cost.


Caroline Leatherdale
Environmental Advisor

Caroline’s expertise covers planning and environmental and sustainability management in the civil engineering and extractive industries. Working on award-winning projects throughout the UK, Caroline builds close relationships with regulators and stakeholders to ensure innovative outcomes to reduce environmental impact and enhance sustainability performance.


Hugh Babbage
Coal Marketing Advisor

Hugh Babbage is a chartered mining engineer (CEng) with more than 30 years’ experience working in the Australian and international mining industry, with a major involvement in international coal markets. Hugh provides advisory and consulting services to a number of international clients on a medium to long term basis, focusing on coal marketing into Europe and Asia.

Eric Gozlan
Exploration Advisor

Eric obtained his Masters Degree in Geophysics and Geology at Monash University, Melbourne and has since gone on to achieve 10 years’ experience working in consulting for the mining industry.

He has used this knowledge to consult directly to Macarthur Coal, BHP Billiton, Shenhua Coal, CH2MHILL and various smaller mines and organisations in Australia and abroad.

Tanya Barnes
Communications Advisor

Tanya has over twenty-five years’ experience in senior corporate roles planning and delivering tactical and strategic corporate communications, particularly focusing on acquisition and change, brand development, media relations, crisis management and stakeholder engagement.


Tony Lodge
Political Advisor

Tony has worked in British politics for over ten years, with his areas of expertise being in the industrial, mining, transport, shipping and energy sectors. He writes regularly for both national and international media and advises WCM on current UK policy.



Gavin Maddison
Legal Advisor

Gavin is a Partner at Irwin Mitchell solicitors and specialises in Corporate Finance. He advises businesses on a wide range of financial matters, including acquisitions and disposals, investments, equity fundraisings, shareholder arrangements, group reorganisations, joint ventures and corporate governance.


John Rippon
Consultant Mining Geologist

johnrJohn worked as a deep mines geologist with the National Coal Board from 1969 in various UK coalfields, and then at British Coal prior to industry privatisation in 1994. He has a personal specialism in the depositional and structural geology of coal-bearing formations, particularly those of Carboniferous age. John maintains close links with various UK universities, and has published many papers.


Tony France
Consultant Geologist

tonyfTony provides specialist geological support to WCM on the local geological environment. Tony started work in mine surveying aged 15, and qualified as a mine surveyor in 1960, moving into geology in 1967, collating and interpreting all the underground geological input at large collieries in the north west of England. He has experience in many aspects of geological work, including shaft sinking, mine developments and operational day to day geological requirements.


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Latest News & Events

WCM joins ‘All Things Engineering Fair’ at Lakes College

On February 5th, Peter Altounyan, WCM’s Technical Director (left) and Jacob Armstrong, Mine Planner (right) visited Lakes College in Workington to attend their ‘All Things Engineering’ fair hosted by Inspira.