Anglo American to increase investment in Woodsmith to £374m
Anglo American will invest £374 million in the construction of its Woodsmith polyhalite mine in Yorkshire, UK in 2021, after the current year saw strong development progress.
In an investor presentation, Chief Executive Mark Cutifani, announced the company will invest further funds into the Woodsmith project next year, and increase the £224.8 million it had previously committed to spending.
Cutifani said the improved funding commitment reflected the "good progress that was ahead of expectations" and that the increased investment would ‘ensure that critical path elements continue to proceed at the optimal pace and sequence.
The presentation also revealed that the first drive of the 37km tunnel from Wilton on Teesside was nearing the 12km mark and progress was being made on preparing for further mineshaft sinking operations at the Woodsmith Mine site near Whitby – which is expected to being in the coming year.
Simon Cater, Chief Development Officer on the Woodsmith project, adds: “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.”
The company has made around 150 new hires since it launched a recruitment drive in the autumn, with a further 60 expected to be hired in the coming weeks. Almost three quarters of these new workers have been employed from local areas adjacent to the Woodsmith 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 total workforce size to approximately 1,400.
The Woodsmith project involves the sinking of two mineshafts into the polyhalite ore over 1.6-kilometres beneath the surface near Whitby, as well as the construction of the tunnel.
Once 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. From there, it will be shipped globally and sold to farmers as a natural low carbon fertiliser, certified for organic use.
Copper production from top ten companies to increase by 3.8%
Copper production from the world’s top companies is set to increase by up to 3.8% this year, following a fall of 0.2% in 2020, GlobalData analysis reveals. Last year’s marginal slump saw production drop to 11.76 million tonnes (Mt).
The initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mining operations was immense, however, six of the ten largest copper producers succeeded in increasing output last year. In 2021, copper production from the top ten copper companies is expected to bounce back, rising by up to 3.8%, to reach 12.2Mt, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
The highest increase in copper production was by Canada’s First Quantum, which, despite all the challenges, reported 10.4% growth in 2020. The company’s Sentinel mine in Zambia and Cobre Panama were key contributors to this growth. While the latter remained under care and maintenance between April and August 2020, it delivered record production levels during the subsequent months.
Codelco, the world’s largest producer of the red metal used in electric vehicles, also bucked the trend.
Vinneth Bajaj, Associate Project Manager at GlobalData, commented: “Despite Codelco reporting over 3,400 active cases during July 2020, the company achieved 1.2% growth in its production in 2020. The company implemented a four-phase plan, as part of the COVID-19 measures, to ensure the health and safety of its employees, while also avoiding any significant impact to its copper output.”
Although the overall impact was minimal, declines in production were observed from Glencore (8.2%), Antofagasta (4.7%), BHP (3.9%) and Freeport McMoRan (1.3%). Reduced operational workforces due to COVID-19 measures, lower ore grades and production halts due to maintenance were the key disruptors to output during 2020.
The move towards electric vehicles and clean energy from renewables sources such as solar panels and wind turbines has driven the copper price to all-time highs. Copper has been among the best performers over the last month where metals ranging from aluminum to iron ore have surged to their highest prices in years. The rally is being fueled by stimulus measures, near-zero interest rates and signs that economies are recovering from the global pandemic.