Yorkshire mine to create hundreds of new jobs amid £150m investment boost

Anglo American is to hire hundreds of new workers at its Woodsmith polyhalite mine on the North Yorkshire coast after making good progress on the project despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Woodsmith Mine site near Whitby
The Woodsmith Mine site near Whitby

The mining giant also announced it will invest an extra £150m in the project next year, increasing its 2021 investment from £225m to £375m.

Anglo is to recruit an additional 130 construction workers and dozens of additional management and administration roles in the spring, which will increase the size of the workforce to around 1,400.

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In total, this will amount to 400 new workers by mid next year, on top of the 1,000 employees it had in the autumn.

Anglo's chief executive, Mark Cutifani, said the improved funding commitment reflects the mine's progress, which has been ahead of expectations.

The firm said that the first drive of the 37km tunnel from Wilton on Teesside is nearing the 12km mark. It added that good progress is being made on preparations 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 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.

Nearly three quarters of the new workers have been hired from areas local to the project in North Yorkshire and Teesside, a trend the company is working hard to continue in further recruitment drives scheduled for the new year.

Mr Carter said: “We are building a project that we want people to be proud of and that provides opportunities for local people for many decades.

“Ensuring local communities prosper and grow is central to how Anglo American does things, and these new jobs are another example of us doing that.”

The project involves the sinking of two mineshafts into the polyhalite ore over a mile beneath the surface near Whitby and the construction of a 23 mile 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 plan for the mine involves tunnelling under the North York Moors National Park to exploit what is believed to be the world’s largest deposit of polyhalite, a multi-nutrient fertiliser.

From there, it will be shipped around the world and sold to farmers as a natural low carbon fertiliser, certified for organic use.