The first 1,800-tonne tunnel boring machine that will be used to construct Sirius Minerals’ 23-mile mineral transportation tunnel from Teesside to Whitby was officially launched at a ceremony on Wilton International in Redcar.
Local schoolchildren unveiled a plaque with the name of the machine, Stella Rose, which was chosen by an online vote.
Eight-year-old Warren Walls, from Ings Farm Primary in Redcar, suggested the winning name, inspired by ‘Stella’ meaning ‘star’ in Latin (and ‘Sirius’ meaning ‘brightest star’), and ‘Rose’ by the famous local landmark, Roseberry Topping.
“Today marks another important milestone in the delivery our project,” said Sirius Minerals’ CEO Chris Fraser.
“The tunnel will link Woodsmith Mine with Teesside, ultimately transporting our POLY4 fertilizer to the port in a low impact and sustainable way.
“It is a major piece of infrastructure that we intend to be operating for decades to come.
“The level of engagement with local children in the naming process and more broadly around the project is very encouraging as we continue to try to spark the imagination and interest of our future engineers and scientists in the UK and more importantly here in the North.”
The tunnel is part of the company’s multi-billion pound project to extract polyhalite, a form of natural fertilizer, from Woodsmith Mine near Whitby.
It will be transported on a conveyor belt along a 23-mile tunnel to Teesside, where it will be processed and shipped around the world.
The mine has been designed with most of its infrastructure underground and will create over 1,000 long term jobsand support a further 1,500 in the supply chain.
Sirius expects to strike first polyhalite in 2021 and aims to be producing 10 million tonnes per annum by 2024.