Tag Archives: UK

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.”