Towards a Minerals Local Plan for Derbyshire and Derby

Towards a Strategy for Transporting Minerals


Appendix A: How are minerals transported in the Plan area now and how is this likely to change in the future?

Detailed information on the transport of minerals within the Plan area is limited. All minerals are reliant on road transport apart from at large scale long-life limestone quarries where rail is used. This transportation pattern is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.

In terms of the distance travelled, aggregate minerals tend to travel relatively short distances although they often serve urban areas beyond the Plan area boundary such as Greater Manchester, Sheffield and Nottingham. Industrial minerals and their resultant products are more valuable and travel greater distances, for instance, Tunstead cement works is one of only thirteen sites serving the whole of the United Kingdom.

The following section describes in greater detail the current and likely future transportation of the principal minerals extracted within the Plan area. In general the scale of mineral working and the subsequent level of mineral traffic are not expected to increase significantly over the Plan period.


Limestone is the currently the only mineral transported by non-road transport and this is likely to remain the case for the foreseeable future. The last East Midlands Regional Aggregate Working Party survey on transport occurred in 2009 when of the total limestone produced for use as aggregates i.e. 7.2 mt approximately 71% was transported by road and 30% by rail.[1] Of the limestone aggregate that was exported i.e. 4.9 mt 58% was transported by road and 42% by rail.[2] Additionally, we know that some of the 3 mt of limestone produced for industrial uses is also transported by rail.

Rail transport was to markets outside the East Midlands Region, mainly to the North West and the Yorkshire and Humberside regions. In 2013, there were three active rail facilities in the Plan area, at Tunstead Quarry, Dowlow Quarry and Doveholes Quarry and three inactive rail facilities at Whitwell Quarry, Hillhead Quarry and Hindlow Quarry (this quarry is currently only being used to process mineral from Tunstead). High volume long-life limestone quarries have the greatest potential for transporting mineral by rail.

Sand and Gravel

All sand and gravel extracted from within the Plan area is transported to its markets by road and most is used within 10-15 miles of the quarry due to transport costs and competition from alternative sources of aggregates. Only one site, Attenborough Pit, uses water transport, where extracted sand and gravel is barged along the River Trent to the processing plant in Nottinghamshire. The potential for further water transport however is limited and road transport is likely to remain the dominant mode. The relatively small scale operations tend to preclude rail transport.

Building stone

The often remote location of these quarries and the volumes and form of material involved means that transportation of the stone by means other than road is often impractical and not viable. No building stone quarries are connected to the commercial rail network. The specific properties and value of building stone mean that it is often economically viable to transport it substantial distances to where it is required.



The way that coal is transported to where it will be used depends on the distance to be covered. Coal is generally transported by conveyor or truck over short distances. Trains and barges can be used for longer distances within domestic markets, or alternatively coal can be mixed with water to form coal slurry and transported through a pipeline. Coal transportation can be very expensive – in some instances it accounts for up to 70% of the delivered cost of coal. In the past decade, opencast mined coal from north-eastern Derbyshire was transported to Oxcroft disposal point by road for processing and from there was dispatched by rail for use by power stations. Whilst this facility closed in 2007, it is proposed to safeguard[3] the route of the railway line to encourage any future working to transport the mineral by rail. Currently there are only two active coal sites within the Plan area, at Lodge House Surface Mine, Smalley and Eckington Drift Mine both of which use road transportation.



Whilst in the past brick clay was consumed in small scale brickworks adjacent to the quarry, today increasing tonnages are transported to large scale automated brickworks for blending purposes and to serve plants with no clay reserves. It is unlikely that this movement of clay will be by any other method than road and that the finished product is usually delivered to the market by road. Brick clay is a high weight and low value commodity and as such transportation affects costs significantly. Within the Plan area there are three permitted brick clay sites, all of which use road transport to move the clay. Fireclay has a slightly higher value than brick clay and which means that longer journeys are more economically feasible but usually undertaken by road.


Gas from Coal Extraction

The coalification process, whereby plant material is progressively converted to coal, generates large quantities of methane-rich gas which are stored within the coal. Gas can be used for electricity generation or supplied to local industry for use in oilers and kilns. It is mainly transported for use by pipeline which reduces the need for road traffic. There is currently only one abandoned mine methane extraction site that has planning permission within the Plan area, at Whitwell Colliery.

Vein Minerals

Transport of ore in Derbyshire and the Peak District National Park is via road. There are no rail facilities within, between or outside relevant sites serving this industry. It may be difficult to encourage operators to invest in rail freight facilities given the tonnage of material involved compared to bulk loads, such as aggregates.



[1] East Midlands Regional Aggregates Working Party Report 2009

[2] East Midlands Regional Aggregates Working Party Report 2009

[3] Draft Strategy for Infrastructure Safeguarding 2014, Derbyshire and Derby Joint Minerals Local Plan