180 jobs to go as mining giant cuts costs

Anglo American, which is developing a major fertiliser mine near Whitby, has confirmed jobs will be lost at the project.

The mining giant will cut the workforce it directly employs at Woodsmith Mine, which will mean a loss of about 180 of the 360 roles.

Contractors have also been instructed to supply fewer staff to the scheme as work on creating one of the two mine shafts has been paused.

Anglo American is looking to reduce spending at the polyhalite mine by more than £2m per day. Work on boring a 23-mile tunnel to the River Tees, where the materials will be processed and exported, will now slow down.

The company’s chief executive officer in the crop nutrients division, Tom McCulley, told the BBC the reduced staffing levels were anticipated to be in place for 18 months.

He said: “I want to highlight that we have spoken to people about their roles, so everyone is aware around the slowdown.

“The project has really delivered over the last couple of years. But budget constraints within Anglo, which are outside of the Woodsmith team’s control, necessitate that we slow down for 18 months. ”

Redpath, which is one of the main contractors supplying workers for the mine, said it would cut the number of employees sinking the shafts at Woodsmith from 700 to 300, though many will be transferred to other projects.

McCulley added: “We do have multiple contractors across the workforce. The work will stop at different times. We need to be at a safe place to stop.

“So we have stopped some work right now but by mid-2025 we should have in the region of 900 people, a 60% contractor reduction compared with where we are today.”

Last month, Anglo American confirmed it would be reducing capital investment into the Woodsmith mine from a planned $1bn (£800m) a year until 2027 to $200 (£160m) next year and nothing in 2026.

Woodsmith employs around 1,600 people. The mine was started in 2017, and was acquired by Anglo American when it took over Sirius Minerals in 2020.

Polyhalite is a naturally occurring mineral containing potassium, sulphur, magnesium and calcium – four of the six key nutrients required for plant growth.

It will be sold as a multi-nutrient fertiliser suitable for organic use that can boost crop yields and aid more sustainable farming.