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.
Vale invests $150mn to extend life of Manitoba operations
Vale has announced a $150mn CAD investment to extend current mining activities in Thompson, Manitoba by 10 years while aggressive exploration drilling of known orebodies holds the promise of mining well past 2040.
Global energy transition is boosting the market for nickel
The Thompson Mine Expansion is a two-phase project. The announcement represents Phase 1 and includes critical infrastructure such as new ventilation raises and fans, increased backfill capacity and additional power distribution. The changes are forecast to improve current production by 30%.
“This is the largest single investment we have made in our Thompson operations in the past two decades,” said Mark Travers, Executive Vice-President for Base Metals with Vale. “It is significant news for our employees, for the Thompson community and for the Province of Manitoba.
“The global movement to electric vehicles, renewable energies and carbon reduction has shone a welcome spotlight on nickel – positioning the metal we mine as a key contributor to a greener future and boosting world demand. We are proud that Thompson can be part of that future and part of the low carbon solution.”
Vale continues drilling program at Manitoba
Coupled with today’s announcement, Vale is continuing an extensive drilling program to further define known orebodies and search for new mineralization.
“This $150mn investment is just one part of our ambitious Thompson turnaround story. It is an indicator of our confidence in a long future for the Thompson operations,” added Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals operations.
“Active collaboration between our design team, technical services, USW Local 6166, and our entire Thompson workforce has delivered a safe, efficient and fit-for-purpose plan that will enable us to extract the Thompson nickel resources for many years to come.”
The Thompson orebody was first discovered in 1956 by Vale (then known as Inco) following the adoption of new exploration technology and the largest exploration program to-date in the company’s history. Mining of the Thompson orebody began in 1961.
“We see the lighting of a path forward to a sustainable and prosperous future for Vale Base Metals in Manitoba,” said Gary Annett, General Manager of Vale’s Manitoba Operations.