Project Team

Latest News & Events

Under a week left to show your support for West Cumbria Mining’s Woodhouse Colliery project

There is now under a week left to show your support for our Woodhouse Colliery Project.

Read More

We’d love to hear from you

Please get in touch with any questions or comments relating to the progress of the mine.

You can also email us to say you’d like to sign up to receive our newsletter which will give you the updates straight to your inbox.

Click here to contact us

We won’t share your data with anyone else – see our privacy policy for more details.

Mark Kirkbride
Chief Executive Officer

Mark_KMark has more than 25 years’ experience in the mining and civil engineering industries, primarily in underground construction and operations with Trafalgar House, Cementation Mining, Kvaerner and Skanska Construction.

He has worked on a wide range of mine developments, operational mines, tunnelling and heavy civil engineering construction projects, from graduate engineer through to project director.

His mining expertise includes deep shaft sinking, hard and soft rock tunnel developments (including coal, salt, potash, gold, platinum, lead/zinc and copper) and production operations. Specialist engineering work has included tunnel boring machines, tunnel refurbishment, sprayed concrete linings, hydroelectric schemes and deep geological disposal investigations.

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

He 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. He commenced his career as an underground worker and following a stint of working on the coal face and in mine developments he then rose through the ranks holding numerous senior management positions at many of the UK super-pits, before becoming the Colliery Manager at Hargreaves Maltby Mine. Having experience in some of the most arduous mining conditions, Simon has introduced new systems and implemented changes in working practices which has allowed increased efficiency and productivity from underground coal production units.

During Simon’s mining career, he led the recovery of UK’s biggest landslide project and was subsequently appointed Operational Development Director for Hargreaves opencast division in England.

More recently Simon has held the position of Mining Operations Director for Hargreaves Industrial Services Ltd during which time Simon has also been Hargreaves most senior Mining Consultant advising major stakeholders on worldwide mining opportunities.

Kevin Murphy
Head of Project Delivery

kevinKevin 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.  Kevin is the key link for all involved; from the governance of the Board and Management team to the array of employees and subcontractors responsible for delivering the West Cumbria Mining mission statement.


Helen Davies
Head of Communications and HR

helen1Helen started her career in the City within the Lloyd’s of London reinsurance broking environment and property market.   During this time she gained valuable experience working for both large corporate organisations (including Aon, the world’s largest insurance broker), as well as small private broking houses in a number of varied roles including marketing, administration, sales and broker support.  Having taken time off to have a family, her wealth of experience has given her the adaptability to take on the role of  Head of Communications at West Cumbria Mining.


Patrick Pittaway
Corporate Finance & Strategy Director

Patrick is a geologist with a MSc in Mineral Project Appraisal and has over 18 years’ financial plus technical experience.  He began his career as an exploration geologist working for Billiton South Africa Ltd before moving into finance in London where he worked as an Investment Banking analyst with UBS and Deutsche Bank.  Patrick then spent 10 years working as a Fund Manager responsible for over US$600m of assets, was involved in financing a number of mining projects and was awarded the prestigious Citywire AAA rating.  Prior to joining us, Patrick was an Associate Director in Cantor Fitzgerald’s Metals & Mining Corporate Finance team, advising small to mid-Cap UK miners on their debt & equity capital market and corporate strategies.

Ian Rae
Head of Programme

Ian grew up in Whitehaven and began his career in the automotive industry serving an apprenticeship with Cumberland Motor Services.  He joined British Nuclear Fuels and spent 28 years working in a variety of roles including environmental monitoring, health physics, plant safety, control system design, installation and commissioning and in the final 15 years focused on project and programme management.  He subsequently was the Head of Site for NuGen at the Moorside site.

Ian is a qualified Chartered Engineer and Registered Project Professional and MSP (Managing Successful Programmes) Practitioner.

It seems rather appropriate that Ian is now working in the mining industry as his late father was a Bevan Boy during World War II and worked at Harrington No 10 Colliery at Lowca in Cumbria.’

Peter Altounyan
Technical Director

peterPeter 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 started his career with the National Coal Board in the UK, rising to be their Head of Rock Mechanics, prior to establishing and leading RMT, a specialist mining consultancy group, servicing underground coal mines worldwide.

Peter brings a wealth of practical and technical knowledge and experience to WCM, which will be invaluable in driving the project forwards.

Peter has published numerous technical papers, lives in Cumbria and has a lifelong passion for the area.

Alexander Garcia-Gonzales
Technical Manager

alexgAlexander 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.

In the UK, Alexander has actively developed and introduced ground control risk management systems into deep mines and has worked to facilitate operator’s compliance with the mining regulations.

Caroline Leatherdale
Environmental Adviser

clCaroline’s expertise covers planning, construction and operational environmental & 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.

This collaborative approach will help West Cumbria Mining achieve its objective to become the most admired metallurgical /coking coal company in the world.

Colin Sharpe
Supply Chain Manager

Colin started his career in the pharmaceutical industry where he experienced a number of technical roles in a manufacturing environment. After five years, he left to read for a degree in ac

counting and finance at Lancaster University. Experience in business then prospered with chartered accountants and management consultants, KPMG, and following secondment / contract work in the NHS, he developed his own business in retail and property management. This led to a natural move into business development and commercial management working for the National Lottery operator, Camelot Group, and then for local multi-media company, CN Media Group.

Latterly, business management at the Port of Workington afforded a more holistic experience of the business cycle in a specialist logistics-centred environment, honing skills including programme management, budgetary control and stakeholder relations. Since then, Colin has been engaged as an independent management consultant on a wide range of business activities.

Hugh Babbage
Coal Marketing Adviser

HughHugh 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. The first 10 years of his career were focused on Australian coal mining operations, engineering and feasibility work, employed by Thiess, CSR and Shell in Queensland & New South Wales. Hugh moved into international coal marketing whilst at Shell and later joined MIM where he was instrumental in developing coking and thermal coal markets worldwide, with MIM’s Queensland coal business tripling in size during the 1990’s. Now based mostly in Ireland, in recent years Hugh has provided advisory and consulting services to a number of international clients on a medium to long term basis, with a particular focus on coal marketing into Europe and Asia. Hugh is a graduate of the Royal School of Mines, Member of the UK Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining (IMMM) and the Australasian Institute of Mining & Metallurgy (AusIMM)

Tanya Barnes
Senior Communications & HR 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. Working with both the private and public sector across markets such as civil and structural infrastructure, education, healthcare, utilities, services, investment and commercial development.

She began her career at Trafalgar House, which later became Kvaerner and then Skanska, where she head-up the communications activities of the UK business and was part of the group team working across global communications activities.

Prior to becoming advisor to WCM, Tanya was Communications Director of Bouygues UK with responsibility for all PR and Communications activities across the UK businesses.

Jacob Armstrong
Mining Engineer

Jacob joined West Cumbria Mining at the beginning of 2017. A graduate from Camborne School of Mines, Jacob has a bachelor’s degree in Mining Engineering.

Prior to joining WCM he gained valuable experience working for a consultancy undertaking a cost-benefit analysis of 3D surveying in a deep South African gold mine. Using this knowledge, Jacob has been instrumental in helping to develop the technical economic model and its integration into the greater financial model. He has worked extensively in mine planning and scheduling, using the Deswik software, to analyse many different scenarios and iterations of the mine and feeding this information into the financial model.

Jacob will be working closely with a geotechnical modelling expert to further increase West Cumbria Mining’s in-house expertise and capability in the modelling of rock mechanics.

Henry Coomber
Technical Assistant

Henry originally joined WCM in February 2018 as an intern and mentee and following his six-month placement, became a full-time member of the WCM team.

Henry supports the day-to-day activities of the Communications team as well as working alongside the mining technical department supporting the team with report and documents writing, helping to develop scoping studies and working closely with the engineers on mine planning.

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

Jasmine Nock
Project Assistant

Jasmine is WCM’s recruitment and 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. Afterwards, she went on to complete a postgraduate certificate of education in 2017.

Before joining WCM, Jasmine was a geography teacher where she developed strong communication skills allowing her to communicate effectively with training and recruitment suppliers and applicants for all roles at WCM. Based in Cumbria working to transition the project to be construction ready.

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 before moving to Australia to work as an exploration geologist on drilling programs in the coal industry in Queensland. He gained further mineral exploration experience while working on Dalradian Gold Ltd’s Curraghinalt project in Northern Ireland.



Rohin Shah
Junior Mining Engineer

Following his graduation from Camborne School of Mines with a degree in Mining Engineering, Rohin joined WCM to support the technical mining team in the detailed engineering, mine design and modelling work to take the project into construction readiness.

Whilst studying, to gain additional experience, during holidays Rohin worked at a minerals and metals consultancy where he gained experience researching the global steel and tungsten markets. He also worked as a mining engineer for two months in Guyana where he helped with short and long term mine planning and lead drone surveying to aid drill and blast.


Eric Gozlan
Exploration Manager

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



Edward McLaughlin
Project Support Technician

EdEdwardward, from Whitehaven, has extensive practical experience and is already proving to be an invaluable support to the Project Team.







John Rippon
Consultant Mining Geologist

johnrJohn worked as a deep mines geologist with the National Coal Board from 1969, progressing to senior technical positions in various UK coalfields, and then to British Coal’s Technical Services & Research Executive prior to industry privatisation in 1994. During that time, he developed personal specialisms in the depositional and structural geology of coal-bearing formations, particularly those of Carboniferous age. Following privatisation he applied these specialisms to various oil, gas  and underground coal gasification projects, while maintaining his mining interests. His mining experience includes detailed understanding of its attendant risks and opportunities (geological through to commercial), and the specifics of coal geology, resource evaluations and exploration. John maintains close links with various UK universities, and has published many papers interpreting British coalfield geology; he gained his PhD in 1997, and is a Chartered Geologist.

Tony France
Consultant Geologist

tonyfTony France provides specialist geological support to the WCM exploration and geophysics teams on the local environment. Tony started work in mine surveying aged 15, and qualified as a mine surveyor in 1960. He moved into geology in 1967 and became responsible for the collation and interpretation of all the underground geological input at the large collieries in the north west of England. He has been involved with all aspects of geological work, including shaft sinking, mine developments and operational day to day geological requirements. From the mid 1970’s he was involved in the deep exploration of South Lancashire, overseeing cored boreholes to 1,750m deep, working with a series of major joint ventures (including BP, British Gas, Amoco etc). In addition to the geochemical, structural and sedimentological work, a comprehensive understanding was developed for the interpretation of wireline logs. Tony also has extensive experience with high resolution seismic surveys, and in 1990 became a consultant geologist working on geotechnical and civil engineering work, including mining subsidence and hydrogeological issues. Since 2004 he has been involved with strain fracture work related to coal seams and various exploration programmes.

Stephen Newson
Mining Consultant

Stephen NewsonSteve is a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining.  He has over 40 years of mining experience including operational management, research and development and the design and construction of large underground projects.  He spent 16 years with British Coal, latterly responsible for the specification and approval of underground tunnel and coalface support systems on a national basis.  During this time his was also a UK representative on the European Experts’ Committees fortunnelling systems and mining methods.  He has worked for global companies, such as Shell and BHP Billiton, on new mine construction and expansion projects in Australia and Africa.  He has also worked extensively in North America, Asia and throughout Europe, including a period as director for a major mining machinery manufacturer.

We’d love to hear from you

Please get in touch with any questions or comments relating to the progress of the mine.

You can also email us to say you’d like to sign up to receive our newsletter which will give you the updates straight to your inbox.

Click here to contact us

We won’t share your data with anyone else – see our privacy policy for more details.

Latest News & Events

Under a week left to show your support for West Cumbria Mining’s Woodhouse Colliery project

There is now under a week left to show your support for our Woodhouse Colliery Project.