Sirius Minerals has begun construction on its 23-mile fertiliser transport tunnel at Teesside’s Wilton International site.
Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry MP was joined by Tees Valley mayor and South Tees Development Corporation chair Ben Houchen to break ground on theimportant milestone in Sirius’ £3.2billion Woodsmith Mine project.
When production begins, the tunnel will be used to transport polyhalite, a fertiliser, from Sirius’ under-construction mine near Whitby in North Yorkshire to Teesside via a high-capacity conveyor belt.
When it arrives at a purpose-built materials handling facility at Wilton and nearby harbour, it will then be exported across the world.
The project will have a transformative impact on the local economy and could result in further investment and development on Wilton and the adjacent South Tees Development Corporation.
The work has begun just weeks after the development corporation signed a landmark partnership agreement with energy and utilities firm Sembcorp to maximise investment opportunities at both the development corporation area and Sembcorp’s Wilton International site.
The memorandum of understanding is an agreement to jointly promote investment, directing businesses to the most appropriate site for their requirements.
Mr Berry said: “Through the development of its Woodsmith Mine, Sirius Minerals is becoming a global player within the Northern Powerhouse set to create thousands of new jobs and provide a major economic boost to the Northern Powerhouse economy.
“It’s the rapidly growing Northern Powerhouse with advanced manufacturers, makers and innovators like Sirius Minerals who are boosting exports from our region while helping us deliver a strong and resilient economy which is fit for the future.
“Schemes of this type only serve to promote further sustained investment into areas like Wilton International and the South Tees Development Corporation, with the benefits keenly felt in their surrounding communities.”
Chris Fraser, managing director and chief executive officer of Sirius Minerals, added: “It is an exciting time for the company as we continue to make excellent progress across the project.
“The life of the mine will span multiple generations, so the facilities that we are building here today will continue to provide jobs and attract investment to Teesside for many years to come.”
The South Tees Development Corporation is the first Mayoral Development Corporation outside of London. It has been set up to promote the economic growth and commercial development of Tees Valley by converting assets in the South Tees area into opportunities for business investment and economic growth.
The STDC area covers approximately 4,500 acres of land to the south of the River Tees, in the Borough of Redcar and Cleveland, and includes former SSI steelworks site as well as other industrial assets. The area benefits from river access and includes the deep-water port of Teesport, England’s largest exporting port.