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Tunnelling and shaft contracts place potash development on target

Signing of a tunnelling contract with Strabag and shaft sinking with DMC means that Sirius Minerals’ plans to start production at its polyhalite – also known as potash – mine in North Yorkshire is on track.

The mine developer said that the project remains on time and budget in its latest quarterly report on the development.

“It is an exciting time for the company as we continue to construct our game-changing Woodsmith Mine which represents the largest private sector investment in the north,” said Sirius Minerals managing director and CEO Chris Fraser. “The infrastructure we’re building will allow us to create thousands of jobs, deliver economic benefits for the local and national economies for generations to come, whilst at the same time both delivering value for our shareholders and playing our part in improving fertiliser practices around the world.

“Strabag brings with it world-leading tunnelling experience, a can-do attitude and another significant, well-aligned partner committed to the success of our project. We are now looking forward to adding progress on our mineral transport system to the impressive progress we have already made on early works and mine shafts.”

Sirius announced the deal with DMC for extending the shafts, which have been started by Bauer using diaphragm wall techniques, to full depth in February but details of the deal with Strabag have just been announced.

Strabag has signed a lump sum deal with fixed rates for tunnelling advances on the material transport system tunnel between Wilton and Lockwood Beck that will take the potash from the mine to the coast for transportation.

Sirius has also confirmed that diaphragm walling work by Bauer is progressing well with 20 of the 48 panels for the 120m deep shaft completed and time lost during the start of the operation, when techniques were being refined, will be recovered. This shaft will be extended to 1,500m depth under DMC’s contract.

Fugro is also still working on ground investigation for the scheme and Sirius has confirmed that the production shaft borehole has now reached 1,627m depth and intersected with a 53m seam of polyhalite. Sirius added that the shallow ground investigation for the Wilton portal is nearing completion and the ground investigation programme for the tunnel to be constructed by Strabag is also progressing to plan.

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