Tag Archives: UK

Worley receives PM & EPCM work at Anglo American’s Woodsmith mine

Engineering firm Worley has been awarded a contract for program management services and engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) to support Anglo American’s Woodsmith project in the UK, the mining company has confirmed.

Worley, in tandem with other contractors, is being tasked with delivering a polyhalite mine for its client Anglo American.

The project 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 a 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.

In Anglo American’s half-year results, released earlier this year, the company outlined that major critical path components had continued to progress to its updated plan at Woodsmith.

“[Our] ongoing technical review confirmed there are several improvements to modify design to bring it up to Anglo American’s safety and operating integrity standards and optimise value for the long term,” it said.

The company acquired Woodsmith when it took over Sirius Minerals in 2020.

Tungsten West makes EPCM progress at Hemerdon as TOMRA XRT ore sorters hit the road

Tungsten West has named Fairport Engineering Limited as its engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) contractor at the Hemerdon tungsten-tin project, in the UK, as well as confirmed it was soon expecting to receive seven X-ray Transmission (XRT) sensor-based ore sorters from TOMRA.

Since successfully listing on the AIM Market of the London Stock Exchange, Tungsten West has been advancing the development of Hemerdon, which is one of the most advanced mining projects in England and is expected to be a key future global supplier of tungsten and tin.

Hemerdon is, Tungsten West says, the third largest tungsten resource globally, as well as being a previously producing mine that was operational from 2015-2018. Tungsten West purchased the Hemerdon Mine in 2019, and has since completed a bankable feasibility study that demonstrated an extensive reserve of approximately 63.3 Mt at 0.18% W and 0.03% Sn, as well as 37.4 Mt of saleable aggregate material. The company estimates that the life of mine is currently 18.5 years with the opportunity to extend this through future investment.

On top of the ore sorters, Tungsten West said the rest of the long-lead items had been ordered and were scheduled for delivery within the company’s timetable. It plans to recommence mining this year.

The upgrade and refurbishment of the existing processing plant at Hemerdon is centred around the optimisation of the existing concentrator circuit as well as the introduction of a new crushing and screening circuit that will then feed into a new XRT ore sorting stage. These upgrades will streamline processing, minimise plant downtime and improve recovery rates, according to the company.

After significant test work, Tungsten West engaged TOMRA to supply the seven units that are required to treat the run of mine throughput. This consists of six duty and one standby units. Orders and deposits for these units were placed in 2021 and the units have now been delivered to the UK and await final transfer to Hemerdon where they will be installed in the front end of the processing plant.

On top of this, six new screens and 11 vibrating pan feeders have been ordered from Vibramech of South Africa at fixed prices. These will replace the existing large screens, which caused the low frequency issues, and were a key contributor to plant downtime under Wolf Minerals – the previous owner of Hemerdon. Delivery is expected in the June quarter of 2022.

Max Denning, Tungsten West CEO, said: “We are extremely pleased with progress at site, particularly the onboarding of Fairport Engineering to undertake the detailed design and construction of the project. We are looking forward to working with Fairport as we move towards restarting full production at Hemerdon, with a substantially improved processing route, through the introduction of XRT ore sorting and upgraded processing equipment. The company has assembled a strong projects and operations team, and we remain confident in our progress.”

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.

Wardell Armstrong expands office and lab space in Cornwall

To accommodate the increased demand for its mineral processing and metallurgical testing services, Wardell Armstrong says it has expanded its office and laboratory space at Wheal Jane Earth Science Park in Cornwall, England.

The new space now accommodates over 30 specialist staff including engineers, chemists, metallurgists, technicians and support staff who all provide services to a global client base.

Darren Buckley from Cornwall Chamber of Commerce opened the new office space last week, with the expansion highlighting Wardell Armstrong’s continuous investment into the Cornish mining industry, it said.

Wardell Technical Director, Ben Simpson, said: “The opening of this facility cements the departments position as the leading ‘mineral processing testing facility in Europe’. I’m delighted to be part of this exciting growth and expansion of Wardell Armstrong.”

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.

Pensana engages Wood Group for UK rare earth processing facility study

Pensana Rare Earths says it has appointed the Wood Group to undertake a study into the establishment of an integrated rare earth processing facility in the UK with a view to creating the world’s first sustainable magnet metal supply chain.

Having progressed the design of the Longonjo rare earths project, in Angola (pictured), to include the production of a mixed rare earth carbonate, Pensana says it now has a unique opportunity to explore the potential for it to make one further step downstream and to create additional value by establishing a rare earth oxide production facility in the UK.

“By linking a mid-stream magnet metal supply with downstream magnet manufacturing capacity there is the potential to create a sustainable magnet metal supply chain at a time of increasing concern over the provenance of these critical metals for the electric vehicle (EV) and offshore wind turbine industries,” the company said.

Following the recent resource upgrade, the Longonjo project is now one of the world’s largest known rare earth resources, according to Pensana.

“To give a sense of scale, the Longonjo project could, together with the UK processing facility, produce enough rare earth oxide to supply the wind turbines at Dogger Bank, projected to be the world’s biggest wind farm, for the next 20 years,” the company said.

With Angola Presidential approval and ongoing financial backing from the Angolan Sovereign Wealth Fund, Pensana’s Longonjo project is well-placed to become the first producing major rare-earth mine in over a decade at a time of burgeoning demand for these critical metals, the company says.

The project is being developed to international standards, has established infrastructure, including the capacity to be entirely powered by hydro-electricity, making Longonjo one of the world’s most sustainable rare earth producers.

Just last week, Pensana announced that Wood and Nagrom, based on test work performed at metallurgical laboratories in Perth, Western Australia, had developed a flowsheet to produce a particularly high-grade MREC, with NdPr comprising 33.5% of the total rare earths content.

Thierry Breton, the EU’s Internal Market Commissioner, recently announced the establishment of a European Raw Materials Alliance recognising that the EU needs to establish sustainable supply and processing capacity of rare earths to support the UK government’s plans for the UK to become the Saudi Arabia of wind, Pensana said.

“Pensana is focused on this broader context and the Wood Group study will take into account sustainable development when considering the process route, preferred location, capital and operating costs, financing arrangements and government incentives relating to the UK project,” it said.

The study is currently expected to take approximately three months to complete.

Pensana Chairman, Paul Atherley, said: “The Wood Group study will look at the first and most important step in creating a sustainable mine to magnet supply chain and that is establishing rare earth processing capability in the UK.”

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.”