Strabag to begin construction of two more tunnels for Polyhalite project in UK

WCN Editorial Team 28 Jun 2019 EUROPE ENERGY & UTILITIES

Austrian construction firm Strabag has been issued a notice to commence construction of two more tunnels (Drives 2 and 3) at the North Yorkshire Polyhalite Project in the UK.

The two drives between the shaft at Lockwood Beck and the Woodsmith Mine will be 24km in total length, with a depth of 360m.

Located near Whitby, North Yorkshire, the Woodsmith Mine aims to extract polyhalite, a unique multi-nutrient fertilizer.

Polyhalite is a mineral that naturally contains four nutrients needed for plant growth. Sirius Minerals, the parent company of York Potash, will extract and sell the multi-nutrient fertilizer product.

Located beneath a national park near Whitby in northeast England, the project area is claimed to contain the largest, highest grade resource of polyhalite to be found anywhere in the world, which is 2.66 billion tonnes, representing 7% of the project’s area of interest.

A 37km-long tunnel and conveyor system will be used to transport the mined polyhalite to Wilton, Teesside, to further process this in an environmentally sound way.

The total amount started to date of about €1bn (£898m), from the contract awarded to Strabag and includes the construction of underground material transport system, the contract for which will begin later this year.

Strabag has already started the design-and-build contract for Drive 1, which is a 13km section from the tunnel portal at Wilton to Lockwood Beck, last year.

Strabag CEO Thomas Birtel said: “We are proud of the commencement of the extensive tunnelling contracts for Drives 2 and 3 and expect to continue working well with the customer. Sirius Minerals and STRABAG have partnered to find efficient solutions to the project’s technical requirements.

“This contract also proves that, despite the unclear Brexit situation, significant investments in the UK are still being made and we were right in our decision to continue to see this market as a European market.”

As part of the contract, Strabag will engineer, procure and construct the fit-out of the mineral transport system, which has been designed to handle a throughput of up to 20 million tons per year. The tunnel will also contain maintenance rail and services, including a 66kV power feeder from the Wilton industrial complex to the mine.

The tunnelling scope also includes construction of two launch caverns for the tunnel boring machines at Lockwood Beck and the Woodsmith Mine.

After the contract for Drives 2 and 3 were awarded in September 2018 and the recent launch of Sirius Minerals stage 2 financing, the work scope for Drives 2 and 3 will begin shortly.

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Image: The TBM “Stella Rose” ready for action at Wilton. Photo: Courtesy of Sirius Minerals Plc.

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