Mine scheme tops 1,300 jobs as tunnel heads for Teesside

A huge fertiliser mine scheme in North Yorkshire is now employing 1,300 people full-time, the firm behind it has revealed.

And Anglo American says that more than a third of a conveyor tunnel, which will transport the mined polyhalite from Whitby to Teesside for processing and export, has already been constructed.

In an interim results announcement to the London Stock Exchange, Anglo American confirmed 1,300 people are now employed full-time on its Woodsmith Project – up from 1,000 at the end of last year – and it will soon hire more than 12 local apprentices to add to the 14 already employed.

Hundreds more contractors and local companies are also engaged in the supply chain.

Anglo American chief executive Mark Cutifani also revealed that excavation of the 23-mile conveyor tunnel between Teesside and the mine at Whitby had reached just over nine miles to beyond Lockwood Beck, where the company is sinking a small intermediate shaft for tunnel ventilation and access.

That shaft has reached its full depth of 383m and is being lined before connecting it to the tunnel. Mr Cutifani also said shaft sinking at Woodsmith Mine had begun on the service shaft.

The company expects to invest around £360m on the project this year.

Chris Fraser, CEO of Anglo American’s Crop Nutrients business, said: “The first half of the year hasn’t been without its difficulties for everyone, not least because of the ongoing restrictions that we’ve been working with during the pandemic.

“But I am incredibly proud that the whole team has pulled together and that we’re continuing to provide important opportunities for people in the region.

“We’re determined to provide as many jobs for local people as we can and build a long-term local workforce – our apprenticeship programme is testament to that.”

The company has provided £150,000 so far this year to support local organisations in North Yorkshire and Teesside – part of a £300,000 social and economic development plan designed to help increase employment opportunities and raise aspirations in the region.

The project’s charitable foundation has donated £236,328 to good causes, including more than £125,000 in Covid-19 recovery funding and significant donations to food banks and other emergency food supplies during the pandemic.

Mr Fraser added: “We continue to identify ways in which we can help and support people, business and organisations in the areas around our operations.

“Anglo American is committed to the area for the long-term and is determined to make a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of our communities, as well as the local environment.”

The Woodsmith Project involves digging two, one-mile-deep mine shafts at Woodsmith Mine near the village of Sneaton near Whitby, and a 23-mile transportation tunnel to a processing facility and port on Teesside.

In a “world first”, most of the surface infrastructure at Woodsmith Mine is being built underground, with the site landscaped to minimise the visual impact on the surrounding countryside.

It will mine a giant deposit of the mineral polyhalite, which will be sold as a natural, low carbon, environmentally friendly fertiliser.