Work to create a £165 million mine in West Cumbria is earmarked to start next winter.

West Cumbria Mining wants to extract coking coal off the coast of St Bees, with a processing plant on the former Marchon site at Kells.

It has submitted a planning application to Cumbria County Council and it is hoped a decision will be forthcoming next spring.

If the application is successful, work would start in winter and be completed by autumn 2020.

Full mine production would begin in 2023.

It had been hoped the application would go before planners before the end of the year, but it had been put back.

The firm will hold two days of events next week at the former Haig Museum in Whitehaven to update people on the work it has completed so far and its plans for 2018.

In late September, the company began initial site investigation works on the former Sandwith anhydrite mine drifts.

Over six weeks, the team gained entry into the tunnels by removing concrete walls and backfilling stoppings at both of the entrances.

This allowed them to carry out detailed inspections.

There were some signs of deterioration, which the company said was expected and work was carried out to secure them.

The offshore exploration programme, which began in June by St Bees Head, has been successfully completed.

Five boreholes were drilled and coal samples recovered have been sent for anaylsis.

More than 1,600 people expressed an interest in working at the mine.

West Cumbria Mining said it was working with local training providers to help make sure people in the area have the right skills.

It has committed to employ 80 per cent of its workforce from within 20 miles of the mine and offer up to 50 apprenticeships.

Until the planning application has been determined, people will not find out if they have moved onto the next stage of the recruitment process.

The firm's annual spend would be around £100m, with most of this flowing back into the local economy, said head of communications Helen Davies.

There will also be a community fund of at least £500,000 each year to support local projects.

Mrs Davies said: "We will run apprenticeship programmes which are designed to deliver the high standard of learning needed to gain a recognised practical qualification.

"Our approach aims to provide opportunities for those who are keen to take on new challenges in the modern world of mining."

West Cumbria Mining's open days will be held next Wednesday, December 6, from 3pm to 8pm and Thursday, December 7, from 10am to 6pm at the former Haig Museum.