Mine project to get half a billion dollar boost

Mining giant Anglo American, which is responsible for the Woodsmith polyhalite mine development on the North Yorkshire coast, has unveiled a huge increase in planned spending on the project.

Chief executive, Mark Cutifani, says the company will invest half a billion dollars (£375m) in the project in 2021, an increase on the $300m (£225m) it had previously committed to spending.

He said the beefed up funding commitment is a reflection of good progress on the mine, which he added was “ahead of expectations”.

The first drive of a 23-mile tunnel from Wilton on Teesside is nearing the 7.5-mile mark.

Also, rapid progress is being made on preparing for further mineshaft sinking operations at the mine site near Whitby. These operations are expected to begin in the New Year.

Simon Carter, chief development officer on the Woodsmith Project, said: “It’s been an incredibly challenging and busy time on the project recently, not least because of the adaptations and safety measures we’ve introduced to make sure that we can work safely during Covid-19.

“But I am incredibly proud that the whole team has pulled together and enabled us to make such good progress.

“I’m delighted that we have been able to buck the trend of many businesses and expanded our workforce, providing important opportunities for people in the region in these difficult times.”

Anglo American has hired around 150 new people since it launched a recruitment drive in the autumn, with around 60 more expected to be hired in the coming weeks.

Today’s announcement of increased funding comes less than a year since the mining giant acquired the sites former owner Sirius Minerals for £405m.

The additional investment is expected to allow the company to recruit an additional 130 construction workers and dozens of additional management and administration roles in the spring, which will increase the size of the workforce to around 1,400.

The project involves the sinking of two mineshafts into the polyhalite ore over a mile beneath the surface near Whitby, and the construction of a 23-mile long tunnel to a new processing and shipping facility on Teesside.

When the mine is complete, extracted polyhalite ore will be hoisted up the mineshaft and transported underground on a conveyor belt, avoiding any impact on the countryside above.

From there, it will be shipped around the world and sold to farmers as a natural low carbon fertiliser, certified for organic use.