Technical Team

Latest News & Events

WCM Project Update – 3 February 2023

Welcome to the latest edition of West Cumbria Mining’s project update newsletter, which is our way of keeping the local community and our stakeholders informed as to the progress of our project.

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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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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.


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)

Jake Woodford
Mining Engineer

jakeHaving graduated from Camborne School of Mines in 2015 Jake has since worked in the Mining Software industry, gaining experience in the geological and engineering aspects. He has previous work experience on tunnel boring machines with Crossrail and was awarded the Glencore Scholarship during his time at Camborne.

Jacob Armstrong
Junior Mining Engineer
Jacob has recently graduated from Camborne School of Mines with a bachelor’s degree in Mining Engineering. He has gained experience working for a consultancy undertaking a cost-benefit analysis of 3D surveying in a deep South African gold mine.





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.

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Latest News & Events

WCM Project Update – 3 February 2023

Welcome to the latest edition of West Cumbria Mining’s project update newsletter, which is our way of keeping the local community and our stakeholders informed as to the progress of our project.