Tag Archives: polyhalite

Anglo American continues SBR-led shaft sinking progress at Woodsmith

While Anglo American continues with its detailed technical review of the Woodsmith polyhalite project in the UK, shaft sinking activities at the asset continue to progress, the company confirmed in an investor update today.

The project was acquired by Anglo American in 2020 with the purchase of Sirius Minerals. Since then, Anglo American has been working on refining the development pathway and overall production potential of the asset.

In an investor presentation today, the company outlined physical progress on the site, explaining that shaft sinking for the circa-1.6-km deep service shaft had progressed to the circa-265-m level. It also said the mineral transport shaft, which it is working on with Redpath Group as sinking contractor, had reached the circa-230-m level of a planned 321-m depth.

Regarding horizontal development, it added that the 37-km mineral transport tunnel – which will connect to the mineral transport shaft – had reached the 20-km development mark with tunnel boring machine technology.

The Woodsmith project overview includes the sinking of production and service shafts with 6.75-m diameters – having depths of 1,594 m and 1,565 m, respectively – and the 37-km-long concrete-lined tunnel containing a conveyor belt, which transports the polyhalite ore from Woodsmith mine, near Whitby, to the Mineral Handling Facility, on Teesside, for processing and shipping.

Both the service shaft and production shaft at Woodsmith are being sunk using Herrenknecht’s Shaft Boring Roadheader technology, which has previously featured on the Jansen potash project in Saskatchewan, Canada, where it excavated two 8-11 m diameter blind shafts down to circa-1,000-m-depth and the Slavkaliy-owned Nezhinsky potash project, where it ended up breaking shaft sinking records under the guidance of contractor Redpath Deilmann on a project to sink two 8-m diameter shafts (one to 750-m depth and one to 697-m depth).

The first cut for the service shaft was made in July 2021, with Anglo American and Redpath Deilmann – which is now leading the sinking project as shaft sinking contractor – restarting sinking activities on this shaft earlier this year.

In the same investor presentation issued today, Anglo American said it planned to start sinking in the production shaft in the March quarter of 2023.

While the ongoing review takes place, Anglo American confirmed it had approved $800 million of capital expenditure for Woodsmith next year, focused on shaft sinking and other critical infrastructure as part of its phased approach to the asset.

Stephen Pearce, Finance Director of Anglo American, said on Woodsmith: “As we have said for some time, we are improving the project’s configuration to ensure we realise the full commercial value over the expected multi-decade asset life. This will extend the development schedule and the capital budget, compared to what was anticipated prior to our ownership, and so potentially impact our carrying value of Woodsmith for accounting purposes at the year end.

“Looking ahead, we are even more positive today about the prospects for Woodsmith and its potential to become a high margin, major contributor to our diversified product portfolio given the outstanding nature of the resource and the premium pricing upside we expect to realise for Poly4 – the highly effective, low carbon fertiliser we will produce.”

Woodsmith Shaft Boring Roadheaders about to re-start cutting process

One of the most-watched shaft sinking projects in the sector right now is located in the UK, with the Woodsmith project in north Yorkshire having been on the radar for a number of reasons.

First off, it is a project that has changed hands recently.

Originally guided by Sirius Minerals, the 10 Mt/y project was acquired by Anglo American in 2020, a transaction that came with a fresh look at the whole project execution phase.

The change in ownership and re-assessment of plans drawn up by Sirius – a much smaller company guided by different investor pressures and operating procedures – led to Anglo American relieving DMC Mining, the lead shaft sinking contractor, of its duties.

Another reason for watching the project is the planned use of Shaft Boring Roadheader (SBR) technology from Herrenknecht.

After debuting at the Jansen potash project in Saskatchewan, Canada, where it excavated two 8-11 m diameter blind shafts down to circa-1,000-m-depth with the help of DMC as the contractor, SBR 2.0 – the second generation of the technology – was put to the test in Belarus at the Slavkaliy-owned Nezhinsky potash project. It ended up breaking shaft sinking records under the guidance of contractor Redpath Deilmann on a project to sink two 8-m diameter shafts (one to 750-m depth and one to 697-m depth).

Herrenknecht, with its experience in mechanised tunnelling, developed the SBR for the mechanised sinking of blind shafts in soft-to-medium rock. Based on the proven technology of the Herrenknecht Vertical Shaft Sinking Machine, the SBR offers improved safety performance compared with conventional shaft sinking methods while also achieving higher advance rates, according to the company.

The SBR is a 60-m tall, suspended shaft sinking machine, with 12 work decks and two service platforms. A telescopic, boom-mounted cutting head is used to precisely excavate rock via a partial-face cutting method. The cutting head works in a cycle, starting each cut from shaft centre to shaft wall, repeating until a layer of material is removed. Excavation proceeds in 1-m increments, followed by SBR lowering sequences.

The SBR was chosen for Woodsmith by Sirius over the conventional drill and blasting method due to its advantages in improving safety and schedule. This methodology, Sirius said, would allow the company to satisfy several operational objectives, moving away from the use of explosives and providing a safer, more predictable work method. Instead of a linear process, the SBR allows work to be completed concurrently as the shaft is sunk, as well as minimising damage to exposed host rock, and further improving safety while minimising downtime. Work decks above the cutting head allow workers to install shaft lining and tubbing as excavation continues, while a pneumatic mucking system removes waste rock.

The third generation of technology – which builds on the first two deployments with, among other things, the addition of two retractable robotic probes to test and grout the ground ahead for safer excavation and an additional control cabin on surface for more remote operation – is due to sink production and service shafts with 6.75-m diameters to depths of 1,594 m and 1,565 m, respectively, at Woodsmith based on the Sirius plan.

These SBRs are being supported by four triple sheaved winches from SMS SIEMAG and conveyors from Herrenknecht-owned H + E Logistik GmbH, among other support equipment.

Work on the service shaft commenced in 2021 with former Anglo American Chief Executive, Mark Cutifani, confirming in July of that year that the “first cut” with the SBR had taken place in the service shaft.

This progress was made while the company was still completing a detailed technical review on Woodsmith to ensure the technical and commercial integrity of the full scope of its design. This review has a particular focus on the sinking of the two main shafts, the development of the underground mining area, and the changes required to accommodate both increased production capacity and the more efficient and scalable mining method of using only continuous miners, Anglo American said.

Since the first cut was made in July 2021, however, Anglo American and Redpath Deilmann – which is now leading the sinking project as shaft sinking contractor – have been reviewing the existing plans for sinking with the SBRs, carrying out minor hardware changes on the machines and ensuring all staff have the appropriate training to facilitate the completion of the shaft sinking process. The Redpath Group is also involved in the drill-and-blast-based sinking for the materials transport system (MTS) shaft.

Various shaft sinking rates have been mooted in the past at Woodsmith, and Anglo American is currently working to develop the optimal solution for the facility based on technical standards.

The sinking at Woodsmith represents a different challenge to the two previous SBR projects conducted to this point.

For starters, there is no ground freezing expected to take place at Woodsmith – unlike what happened in Canada and Belarus. This process, while time consuming and only used to freeze unstable water-bearing strata around the shaft, can create more rock uniformity to aide consistent cutting rates.

There is also the MTS level to consider at Woodsmith, with plans to carry out lateral development work around the 360-m-level to join up the production shaft with this level where polyhalite ore will be transported along a 37-km tunnel to Wilton near the port. This means vertical cutting and loading may be halted while the MTS level connection is established.

All these factors, along with the performance of previous SBR work, will be incorporated into the engineering work Anglo American is carrying out at Woodsmith, but, in terms of the SBR, signs are that work on the service shaft could recommence shortly, with plans to start sinking in the production shaft by the end of the year.

Anglo American signals design changes at Woodsmith polyhalite project

Anglo American has outlined plans to change elements of the design at its Woodsmith polyhalite project in the UK, which will have a bearing on both the sinking of the two main shafts and development of the underground mining area at the project.

The company has been running a detailed technical review on Woodsmith since mid-2020 to ensure the technical and commercial integrity of the full scope of its design. This followed the acquisition of the asset as part of a takeover of Sirius Minerals earlier that year.

“Now largely complete, the review has confirmed the findings of Anglo American’s due diligence that a number of elements of the project’s design would benefit from modification to bring it up to Anglo American’s safety and operating integrity standards and to optimise the value of the asset for the long term,” the company said.

Anglo is also making a change to the leadership at Woodsmith following its integration into Anglo American and ahead of the full project execution phase. Tom McCulley, who has led the development of the Quellaveco copper project in Peru, will take over from Chris Fraser as CEO of Crop Nutrients. This will see Fraser step aside and take on a strategic projects role for Anglo.

“The Woodsmith team is further developing the engineering to optimise the configuration of the project, recognising the multi-decade life of the mine,” Anglo said.

Particular attention is on the aspects identified at the outset of Anglo American’s ownership – namely, the sinking of the two main shafts, the development of the underground mining area, and the changes required to accommodate both increased production capacity and the more efficient and scalable mining method of using only continuous miners, it said.

The sinking of the two main shafts is due to be carried out using Herrenknecht’s Shaft Boring Roadheader (SBR) technology. DMC Mining, a company familiar with the technology thanks to its work sinking shafts at Jansen in Saskatchewan, Canada, was previously tasked with sinking the production and service shaft, each around 1,500 m deep, and two smaller shafts associated with the materials transport system, each approximately 350 m deep. Its contract was ended in 2020.

These improvements will, the company said, require the installation of additional ventilation earlier in the development of the underground mining area.

“Anglo American expects that these changes to the design of the mine infrastructure – which will result in a different, enhanced configuration and therefore a different construction and production ramp-up schedule – will ensure that its exacting standards are met and the full commercial value of the asset is realised,” the company said.

Mark Cutifani, Chief Executive of Anglo American, said: “We are very happy with the high quality and exciting potential of Woodsmith, with the scale and quality of the polyhalite orebody pointing to a quartile one operating cost position and strong margins. This is a very long-life asset and we are going to take the necessary time to get every aspect of the design right to match our long-term vision and value aspirations.

“We have said from the outset that we expect to make improvements and that we will execute certain elements of the construction differently and with a more conservative schedule. We expect to have completed our design engineering, capital budget and schedule at the end of 2022, with a fully optimised value case that recognises the upside potential we see in Woodsmith, and we will then submit the full project to the board.”

In the meantime, construction of the major critical path elements of the project, principally the two main shafts and the mineral transport tunnel, is progressing, with approximately $700 million of capital expected to be invested in 2022, Anglo said.

The plan at Woodsmith under previous owners Sirius was to extract polyhalite via two mine shafts and transport this outside of the National Park to Teesside on a conveyer belt system in an underground tunnel. It would then be granulated at a materials handling facility, with the majority being exported to overseas markets. The company was previously aiming to achieve first product from the mine by the end of 2021, ramping up to an initial production capacity of 10 Mt/y and then full production of 20 Mt/y.

The changes to McCulley’s and Fraser’s roles are effective January 1, 2022. Anglo American has appointed Adolfo Heeren as CEO of Anglo American in Peru, effective from the same date. Heeren will work together with McCulley during the first half of 2022 to ensure a smooth transition from the construction and commissioning phase of Quellaveco into operations, expecting first copper production in mid-2022.

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.