Tag Archives: polyhalite

Siltbuster delivers modular water treatment system to Anglo’s Woodsmith mine

Siltbuster, the water treatment specialist, says it has designed and installed a surface water treatment solution for Anglo American at its Woodsmith polyhalite mine on the North Yorkshire coast of England.

The polyhalite deposit can only be accessed from within the North York Moors National Park, so extensive steps have been taken to limit the environmental impact of the mine, using innovative design solutions and engineering ingenuity, Siltbuster says.

The mine infrastructure has been designed to be sympathetic to its location: the number and size of the buildings has been reduced to a minimum, which, together with extensive landscaping and planting, will ensure the site is screened and blends in with the surrounding area. At the same time, mined ore will only be transported underground, in recognition of the sensitivity of the area, in a 37 km tunnel to the materials handling facility on Teesside, eliminating the need for surface transportation.

“This careful stewardship and protection of the surrounding environment has also extended to water management on site,” Siltbuster said. “During construction, the collected surface rainwater via the on-site collection drainage system can contain an elevated level of suspended solid particles which require removal prior to discharge back into the natural water courses to ensure there is no environment impact. The collected surface water passes through a series of lagoons to remove the gross solids, but the water can still contain elevated level of suspended clay particles that do not settle under natural gravity.”

Anglo American has, therefore, invested in a treatment system, with a high degree of system automation, located within a structure that blends in with the surrounding scenery, in line with the overall project design, the company says.

With the new modular treatment system in place, including 2no. HB200R Lamella Clarifiers with Mix Tanks, over 5.7 million litres of water can be treated each day. Continuous online monitoring of flow, pH and suspended solids of the treated surface water ensure discharge criteria are being met consistently before releasing back into the natural water course, Siltbuster explained. If any of the monitoring parameters are above the trigger level, the system will shut down automatically with an instant text alert submitted to the site operators.

Rob Staniland, Manager for Environment and Permitting at the Woodsmith Project, said: “It is essential that we have robust, reliable systems and partners to help us meet our stringent planning conditions and environmental safety targets. Siltbuster have proven to be just that, providing us with a great solution to helps us deliver on the minimal impact ethos of the whole project.”

Louis Pang, Project Manager, at Siltbuster, added: “The new treatment plant has not only provided an effective and easy-to-operate system, with the system design being modular and built off-site, the on-site construction and installation time was kept to a minimum, thereby minimising the environmental impact, an important environmental criteria set by Anglo American.”

Anglo American pledges further investment in Woodsmith polyhalite project

Anglo American is to invest more money in the construction of its Woodsmith polyhalite mine in Yorkshire, UK, in 2021, following sound progress on the development in 2020.

In an investor presentation this week, Chief Executive, Mark Cutifani, announced the company will invest $500 million in Woodsmith next year, an increase on the $300 million it had previously committed to spending.

The improved funding commitment was, he said, a reflection of the good progress that was “ahead of expectations” and “to ensure that the critical path elements continue to proceed at the optimal pace and sequence”.

It was also revealed that the first drive of the 37 km tunnel from Wilton on Teesside was nearing the 12 km mark and that good progress was being made on preparing for further mineshaft sinking operations at the Woodsmith Mine site near Whitby, which 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. Almost three quarters of these new workers have been hired from areas local to the project in North Yorkshire and Teesside.

The announcement of increased funding is expected to allow the project to recruit an additional 130 construction workers and dozens of additional management and administration roles next year, which will increase the size of the workforce to around 1,400.

The project involves the sinking of two mineshafts with Herrenknecht’s Shaft Boring Roadheader technology into the polyhalite ore over 1.6 km beneath the surface near Whitby, and the construction of a 37 km 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, the company says. From there, it will be shipped around the world and sold to farmers as a natural low carbon fertiliser, certified for organic use.

Eastgate Engineering to turn up the current at Woodsmith polyhalite project

Eastgate Engineering says it has been awarded the electrical installation contract for the Woodsmith mine project, in the UK.

Recently acquired by Anglo American, the Woodsmith polyhalite project, in north Yorkshire, is envisaged to be a 10 Mt/y mine with the potential to ramp up to 20 Mt/y at full production.

The project will see product extracted via two mine shafts and transported to Teesside, in the northeast of England, on a 37 km-long underground mineral transport system. It will then be granulated at a materials handling facility, with the majority being exported to overseas markets.

Eastgate, which did not disclose the contract award value, says it is a specialist electrical and instrumentation services contractors providing engineering, construction, commissioning and maintenance services to a broad range of sectors.

Anglo American eyes polyhalite potential with Sirius Minerals bid

Anglo American has gone public with a bid to buy Sirius Minerals and its North Yorkshire polyhalite project in the UK.

The all-cash bid, which values Sirius at £386 million ($507 million), comes shortly after Sirius announced a strategic review for the project that included a broader process to seek a major strategic partner for the asset.

Anglo says it identified the project as being of potential interest some time ago, given the quality of the underlying asset in terms of scale, resource life, operating cost profile and the nature and quality of its product.

The North Yorkshire polyhalite project, which is spilit into two stages, will see product extracted via two mine shafts and transported to Teesside, in the northeast of England, on a conveyer belt system in an underground tunnel. It will then be granulated at a materials handling facility (MHF), with the majority being exported to overseas markets.

Infrastructure development on the project includes sinking the shafts at the Woodsmith mine to access the polyhalite deposit (using Herrenknecht’s Shaft Boring Roadheader); developing a 37 km-long underground mineral transport system using tunnel boring machines; constructing a MHF in Teesside for granulating or chipping the mined material into the final product; and harbour facilities comprising an approximately 3.5 km-long overland conveyor, a ship berth and a ship loader located adjacent to the harbour on the River Tees.

In its announcement this morning, Anglo said: “The project has the potential to fit well with Anglo American’s established strategy of focusing on world-class assets, particularly in the context of Anglo American’s portfolio trajectory towards later cycle products that support a fast-growing global population and a cleaner, greener, more sustainable world.”

Anglo is not new to the fertiliser market having, until 2016, a phosphates business in Brazil. It sold the mine, beneficiation plant, two chemical complexes and two further mineral deposits that made up this business that year to China Molybdenum in a $1.5 billion deal that also included its niobium assets.

Sirius announced its strategic review back in September 2019 after it had to terminate a $2.5 billion revolving credit facility stage 2 financing for the project (to get it to 20 Mt/y capacity) due to a worsening of market conditions for a required bond raising.

This led to the company slowing development across the project in order to preserve funding to allow more time to “develop alternatives and preserve the significant amount of inherent value in this world-class project”, Chris Fraser, Managing Director and CEO, said at the time.

This saw the company lay out a pathway that would still see first polyhalite production in the June quarter of 2022, but could see the ramp-up to stage one 10 Mt/y polyhalite capacity reached in the September quarters of 2025 or 2026, depending on if there was a 12 or 24 month deferral of the planned development scope.

Anglo said, during the first two years after an offer is successfully completed, development work on the project is expected to be broadly in line with Sirius’ revised development plan “although Anglo American intends to update the development timeline, optimise mine design and ensure appropriate integration with its own operating standards and practices”.

It added: “Anglo believes that the project has the potential to become a world-class, low-cost and long-life asset. Sirius has progressed the development of the project to an advanced stage, with construction now under way for over two years.

“Sirius has indicated that this is currently the world’s largest known high-grade polyhalite deposit with a JORC reserve of 290 Mt, with a grade of 88.8%, and a resource of 2,690 Mt. The resource indicated by Sirius has the scale, thickness and quality to be mined efficiently using bulk mining methods through a relatively simple, low-energy, non-chemical production process.”

In addition, Sirius has indicated the project could operate at an EBITDA margin potentially well in excess of 50%, according to Anglo, leaving the project well positioned for strong through-the-cycle profitability with a long anticipated asset life.

“At this stage, the project requires a significant amount of further financing to develop and commission the operation that has proven challenging for Sirius to procure on an economic basis,” the diversified miner said. “Anglo American, as one of the world’s leading mining companies, has the resources and capabilities to help build on the achievements of the Sirius team. Anglo American remains committed to its disciplined capital allocation framework.”

Anglo explained that there is potential long-term benefits in applying its technical expertise in both the development and operational phases, as well as utilising its recognised Operating Model to drive safety and productivity to “world-leading standards”.

“Integration into Anglo American’s global marketing network would provide full mine-to-market capabilities and build on Anglo American’s institutional experience in the world’s major fertiliser markets,” it added.

Sirius’ polyhalite product, POLY4, is a multi-nutrient fertiliser certified for organic use and has the potential to generate demand at a competitive cost that supports a strong margin, according to Anglo.

“POLY4 is an attractive low-chloride alternative to traditional potassium-bearing mineral products on a cost-effective basis. It includes four of the six key nutrients that plants need to grow – potassium, sulphur, magnesium and calcium,” it said. “The use of fertilisers is one of the most effective ways to improve agricultural yields and therefore help to address the anticipated future imbalance between food, feed and biofuel demand and supply caused by a fast-growing global population and limited additional land availability for agricultural use.”

ICL Boulby hits record polyhalite production in November

ICL Boulby has revealed record-breaking figures for November, with the east Cleveland mine (UK) well on track to hit 1 Mt of polyhalite production next year, before reaching up to 3 Mt by 2030.

As it approaches the end of the first full year since becoming the world’s first and only producer of polyhalite, the company said the mine hoisted and processed over 75,000 tonnes last month.

The decision to make the transition to polyhalite, marketed as Polysulphate – which contains four nutrients vital to plant growth – was made as economically viable reserves of potash, which had been mined for over 40 years, neared exhaustion, according to ICL Boulby.

Demand for the Boulby products has grown rapidly and now is being used by farmers and growers across five continents, the company said.

General Manager and Vice President, Andrew Fulton, said: “This has been a vital year for everyone involved with Boulby – the workforce at the mine, our distribution and processing terminal at Teesport, and all those involved in marketing and developing a growing range of polyhalite-based products.

“It is their united effort which enabled us to reach our November hoist target of 75,000 t with 30 hours to spare.

“Achieving the rapid progress we have made throughout the year has involved everyone being prepared to meet the challenges of accepting new operating techniques and processes, coupled with strong support and investment from our parent company.”

Siemens setting the safety standard in mine winders

The most recent update to Siemens mine winder portfolio will see this infrastructure equipment benefit from not only the latest digitalisation tools, but also the highest safety standards, Roland Gebhard says.

This update, on the one hand, brings its Winder Technological Controller (WTC) fully in line with the latest digitalisation standards using the Simatic S7-1500 digitalisation platform. On the other hand, it ensures the solution adheres to safety integrity level (SIL) 3, Gebhard, the company’s Product Manager for mine winders, said in the company’s Minerals Focus publication.

Gebhard said Siemens is the first company worldwide to integrate this safety standard in a mine hoist. “The new controllers are compliant with most international safety standards, including the German TAS and the Chinese MA,” he said. “The safety system is used primarily for speed and position monitoring, depending on the operating mode and conveyance position in the shaft.”

Additional functions of the WTC include the continuous acquisition and collection of motor, converter, brake system and mine winder data. This accumulated data is downloaded to one of the Siemens Winder Competence Centers and analysed as the basis for recommended preventive maintenance.

Among the first installations to benefit from the new WTC is the Woodsmith polyhalite mine in the UK (pictured, credit: Sirius Minerals), owned by Sirius Minerals.

From 2021, the Woodsmith mine is expected to become the world’s largest polyhalite producer.

OLKO- Maschinentechnik GmbH, which is supplying two Blair Multi-Rope machines for the mine, has ordered the electrical equipment from Siemens.

One hoist will bring polyhalite from a depth of approximately 1,450 m below sea level to the surface at a speed of 18 m/s; the other, with a capacity of 35 t, is for service.

The scope of delivery comprises a medium-voltage synchronous motor with an output of 9.3 MW and a torque of 1,550 kNm. Both winders are fitted with a COBRA01 multi-channel brake system to provide soft braking.

Gebhard concluded: “Thanks to Siemens, mine hoists like the one at the Woodsmith mine are now more digital and safer than ever.”

STRABAG wins MTS contract for Sirius UK polyhalite project

Sirius Minerals has varied its existing mineral transport system (MTS) tunnelling contract with STRABAG AG to include the engineering, procurement and construction of the fit-out of the system at its polyhalite project in Yorkshire, England.

The MTS fit-out scope includes the fit-out of the MTS conveyor, the maintenance railway, electrical and communications infrastructure, and all other services in the tunnel essential to the operation of the MTS.

Sirius said the price of the MTS fit-out was in line with the company’s capital re-estimate announced on September 6.

The MTS will carry the company’s mined polyhalite from 360 m underground at the Woodsmith mine site to the materials handling facility at Wilton, Teesside, on a 37 km underground conveyor system. The tunnel will be constructed by three tunnel boring machines and the conveyor system in the MTS will be designed to handle 20 Mt/y of throughput. It will also contain maintenance rail and services, including a 66 kV power feeder from Wilton International industrial complex.

More than 50% of the MTS fit-out price is on a fixed rate or lump-sum basis, with the remainder based upon estimated prices to be converted into fixed prices prior to completion of stage two financing. The proposed schedule for the MTS fit-out is in line with the company’s overall project schedule, Sirius said.

This is a significant step forward for the project, with Sirius saying it has now completed its procurement for the major construction packages related to the stage two senior debt financing process.

Chris Fraser, Managing Director and CEO of Sirius, said the company’s efforts were now focused on the successful execution of its financing plan to fully finance the construction of its polyhalite project.

As previously announced, the company expects the capital funding requirement of the project to be $3.4-$3.6 billion (previously $3bn), with a $3 billion senior debt financing being the appropriate level of debt.

Given the timing of completion of the final procurement contracts, final lender commitment letters are expected to be received in December and January. The company is targeting financial close of stage two financing in the March quarter.

Sirius awards more contracts for North Yorkshire polyhalite project as capital costs rise

Construction firm STRABAG and engineering group Jacobs have become the latest recipients of contracts for the Sirius Minerals’ owned North Yorkshire polyhalite project in the northeast of England.

STRABAG, which had already been awarded a design and build contract for the first drive of the mineral transport system (MTS) tunnel between Wilton and Lockwood Beck, near Teesside, has been contracted to construct drives two and three. Jacobs, meanwhile, has been given an engineer, procurement and construction contract for the materials handling facility (MHF) at Wilton.

These announcements came as Sirius updated its capital cost estimate for stage two of the project, which is expected to see the mine expand from 10 Mt/y of polyhalite to 20 Mt/y.

This has seen the stage two capital requirement go from $3 billion in November 2016 to $3.6 billion today.

The majority of the cost increase is associated with the MTS (pictured), which Sirius said reflected its own increased understanding of the “geotechnical characteristics of the strata within which the MTS will be excavated”.

This followed further ground investigation and seismic work that led to a refinement of the parameters set out in the geotechnical baseline report upon which the tunnelling contract was determined.

Chris Fraser, Managing Director and CEO of Sirius Minerals, said the cost increase reflected “an optimisation of the MTS tunnel design and a significantly improved risk allocation for Sirius to support the senior debt financing”.

The MTS cost increase is driven by a combination of the following factors:

  • Optimisation of the tunnel design including an increase in the planned internal diameter of the tunnel from 4.3 m to 4.9 m and an increase in lining thickness from 250 mm to 350 mm;
  • A decrease in advance rates as compared from 25 m/d to 17 m/d, and;
  • A commercial risk allocation which transfers construction and delivery risk to STRABAG.

The MTS includes a 37 km tunnel for a conveyor system to transport the polyhalite from the mine near Whitby to Wilton on Teesside for processing. STRABAG will construct the tunnel by using a Tunnel Boring Machine and the company expects to use a high-capacity conveyor belt system capable of transporting 20 Mt/y of polyhalite at 7.5 m/s.

The MHF will be constructed and managed by Jacobs’ UK subsidiary, with the EPC contract agreed on a target price basis, with financial incentives for completing the scope of work under budget, and financial penalties should completion be late or the cost be above the target price.

The plant has been scoped to include 7 Mt/y of granulated and 3 Mt/y of coarse product in its first phase of development but with a footprint for up to 20 Mt/y of granulated product.

Sirius said its procurement process for the project is nearing completion for the major packages and it is in the final stage of negotiations for the outstanding scopes of work.

Included in this is the MTS fit out, which includes the supply and installation of the MTS conveyor and the associated power supply, and the port facilities which includes construction of the outload circuit, wharf and product storage facility.

Sirius has identified STRABAG as its preferred contractor for the MTS fit out and is in advanced negotiations for provision of port facilities.

As the upfront capital for stage two of the project has increased, Sirius has developed a construction programme that defers the initial costs associated with the port facilities and has amended the scope of work to include temporary truck and train transportation of product from the storage facility at Wilton to the port.

“This enables the construction of the overland conveyor to be deferred until such time as it can be funded through operating cash flows, currently assumed to be 2025,” Sirius said.

While capital costs may have increased in this latest update, the company’s operating cost estimates have actually dropped from $32.6/t in stage one (10 Mt/y) to $29.4/t, and $27.6/t in stage two (20 Mt/y) to $27.4/t.

Sirius has already raised $1.2 billion for mine construction at the project, which is expected to produce first polyhalite in 2021, reach 10 Mt/y production in 2024, expand to 13 Mt/y in 2026 and grow further to 20 Mt/y in 2029.