Anglo American's decision to 'slow the development' of the Woodsmith Project in North Yorkshire is a major concern

A overview on the Woodsmith mine in April 2020. PIC: Anglo AmericanA overview on the Woodsmith mine in April 2020. PIC: Anglo American
A overview on the Woodsmith mine in April 2020. PIC: Anglo American
The announcement from Anglo American that it would “slow the development” of the multi-billion pound fertiliser mine in North Yorkshire is causing alarm on multiple fronts.

The scale and size of the Woodsmith Project is huge and delays to it will have repercussions across the region with the opening of the mine due to be delayed by at least two years.

This will not only be a concern for the 2,000 people that are currently employed there but also for future jobs, as thousands more were expected to come on stream.

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While it will also leave businesses that have clustered around the project nervous. It could seriously hurt North Yorkshire’s economy.

This decision is the result of a takeover battle with Anglo American fighting off a bid from rival corporation BHP.

The bitter irony of Anglo American announcing changes to the Woodsmith Project as part of efforts to persuade shareholders of the firm’s future strategy will not be lost on all the retail investors who lost out during the sale of Sirius Minerals to Anglo America in 2020.

As a global business Anglo American needs to realise its duty to the communities that it operates in. Trust is a vital commodity, especially so when dealing with a project on this scale.

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By allowing the concerns of communities around the mine to become secondary to boardroom battles, the message it sends out is that the company is wavering in its commitment to bring jobs and invest in the region. Despite Anglo America insisting that Woodsmith remains “integral” to its growth plans.

From a macro view this could also set back food security, just as the issue becomes a key political issue. The mine was set to become the world’s biggest producer of a potent fertiliser called polyhalite.

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