Sirius - Local Liaison

Jake The Stake's picture

The usual format & usual 'friends of ' (criticals)  were treated to a Project Update slide show together with some new Drone footage.

Most of which can be found on the Sirius Minerals new website:

Matt Parsons talked his way through the D-Walling & bentonite plant and explained the progress & prupose of the attenuation ponds.

"Given the ground conditions at Woodsmith Mine, we have made the decision to construct diaphragm walls to a depth of -120m at each of the three shafts (production, service and MTS shafts). Bauer Technologies, part of the Bauer Group, is the specialist contractor that has been selected to undertake these works."

The service shaft dia 35m to 60m to house the winding gear. The time lapse video showed the guide walls.  Bentonite was pumped in as blocks 3m x 2m x .5m (big)  were extracted with a total of 134 blocks to be put into place. D-walling will continue on all shafts throughout 2018.  D-walling is to protect the shaft from groundwater.

The shaft at Lockwood Beck to 160m  will be using the freezing method, ie steel rods with brine (fridge style).  The same method used by Boulby when it hit a lake.  Main shafts will be grouted.

The drill rig investigation over the services shaft is not required over the production shaft and work should be complete in the next few weeks. 

The MTS shaft was to be at 360m with the TBM components to be put together underground in the cavern.  The cavern expected end of 2018.

The three TBM's required are due to arrive on sites are under procurement process with tunneling to start by the end of the 2018.  Seismic testing along the MTS route was over half way done.

A veteran mining expert with experience of Boulby & Whitby people building the shafts at Boulby interjected about local employment.   Having introduced the prospects of Boulby employees the two R&DC councillors continued discussion of the Boulby/ICL situation.  With regards to Sirius buying out Boulby this was sidelined as media rumours and Sirius was focused on building its own project.  Boulby for a long time have displayed downturn trajectories.  There was room for all in the market. A lot of the guys (Boulby workers)  would have transferable skills that would be considered via the usual channels of contractors and subcontractors of Sirius, ie no guarantees.

There were many local contractors (69%) on site working alongside the specialist contractors. Sirius maintains its aim for an 80% local (1 hour) workforce that would encourage respect to the local environment.   Employment opportunity events in Whitby were to be announced soon. with venues booked in.

Education outreach managed by Heather King had engaged with over 8000 local young people to date was continuing including disadvantaged young people.   

It was agreed that the economic advantages to the area should be measured alongside employment.  This would be worked with the Parkies who were confident this would ensure the S106's outcomes  were met.   

Ongoing dialogue re Lockwood Beck following the S73 application with the new formal permission notices to be issued in due course.

Lighting at Woodsmith installed by AMC was under review with red lights on the cranes removed and some re-orientation of lighting (inwards/outwards) to be implemented.

Further progress of  s106 monies included Church Conservation Trust windows/repairs, development of bridleways with much of Coastal footpaths improvement works underway.  In December an agreed action plan to run alongside the construction/production schedule was approved to tie in with further awards/grants at end of April.   The EIA  recalculation of the reinstatement  Bond was due next week and this would be done annually as the project progressed.

Since October six complaints had been received. Five related to HGV's (two had missed the entrance and three had gone via Ruswarp). One other related to bleepers on site vehicles.  No complaints at Lockwood Beck.

The last two drop in events hosted over 260 people with an exhibition planned for Pannet Park mid February.

TORPS were ongoing and as closer to the limits required by Stage 2 funding closer commercial detail would be kept under wrap.

Stage 2 combined bank debt funding was ongoing with finalisation due later this year.  The IPA-UK was involved with the whole of the stage II construction elements to be met. (All of it)

Specialist logistics management has been on site for six months with former experience in US rail and Austrailian mining and is contracted to the completion of the project.

Hmmm ...

"The team is made of an adaptable, diverse group of individuals who come from all walks of life and all corners of the globe. We push boundaries, empower one-another and are not afraid to challenge assumptions. The dedication of our staff is the reason we’ve come so far, and we are committed to providing our employees with a dynamic, inclusive and fun work environment.

As we continue the collective journey to reach our vision of becoming a world-leading producer of multi-nutrient fertilizer, we need motivated individuals to help us succeed in meeting the challenges ahead."

All good stuff.



Captain Black's picture

SXX Investors & Boulby

fascinating ...

"Interesting link and article -many thanks IB.

It strikes me that £1.4m [ if still ear-marked ] to support jobs in the Cleveland area would barely touch the problems created by those that Boulby has both market wise and structurally and redundancies seem inevitable.

The Israeli's seem to have little appetite to invest in the mine given its age and [relative] finite MOP resources. They simply cant get the minerals out quickly or efficiently enough to compete in a declining commodity price market. If the market had been there for more than the 1 million tonnes p.a. they produce then I'd suspect an international organisation such as ICL would have been producing that already.

The current saturated global MOP market ,where competitive advantage is a function of cost / tonne rather than a product attribute / product differentiation, inevitably leaves Boulby likely to struggle and changing to Polyhalite production IMHO is more of a ''straw clutch''.

They have to go ''deeper'' than the MOP which will need significant investment and even then may not be able to compete with SXX's market price [ assuming SXX get to market ] versus cost /tonne model . If SXX have a current ''penetration price'' of [say] $165 / tonne a Boulby could be facing a potential $30 /tonne revenue drop from a MOP market price of circa $205 AND no prospect of matching the ''per tonne'' economics of the modern mine on it's way next door.

Tagging yourself to the prospect of Poly4 being a success isn't a particularly great strategy either IMHO. Although there's the prospect of a 'new' sub- market being created by SXX for Poly4 , it could be several years before prices start to rise for Poly4 and you have to be able to get it out to compete effectively at the [ say ] $165 /tonne level. SXX's numbers may work but Boulby looks as if it needs significantly more ''per tonne '' capex to continue competitively.

You have to really feel for those being made redundant and those facing a job loss. It places huge pressures on families and 'stigmatises' too. £1.4m goes nowhere with the sorts of numbers being banded about.The best move the Government of any colour could make would be to get the Loan Guarantee's - subject to due diligence - in place that might go a long way to securing the futures of 500 families + - assuming Woodsmith gets built.

Although several years away SXX could have a further START UP advantage in having a [relatively] well trained workforce available either in- situ at Boulby [men will travel for a few pounds per week more ] and the possibility of re-engaging those being laid off now and re-training them.

Buy Boulby ? No. Not yet anyway IMHO. Although possibly tempting to SXX as there's a ready - made extension to the mineral asset I'd leave well alone and let it drift downwards. It may be a viable add on later but I'd suggest the business stays focused on its current mission as it has enough challenges getting to the start line as it is.

The Boulby Operation will have finite capacity up through its current mineshaft [ but there ss a ready made shaft there to develop - bit like a ''pilot'' hole for a bigger shaft ]. The resources are allegedly there but we don't know the Geology and ease of extraction versus SXX mineral lode. Equipment ''ageing'' but could the resource be linked up to the SXX system later on via underground conveyors ?

I think Boulby as ICL Boulby has numbered days. As an extension of Woodsmith in the future may involve some interesting equations and investment criteria but I wouldn't be surprised if it became part of SXX further down- stream as part of the expansion plans to 20 mill tonnes p.a.


"Hello Sunning

Boulby has already supplied the polyhalite used in the crop trials that have formed the underpinning of Sirius's TORPs, and (according to the Prospectus, page 407) enabled Joy to use data from the performance of the Joy mining machines operating in the Boulby polyhalite to develop the machines that will be used at Woodsmith.

Boulby have been mining polyhalite for several years, but only reached a cumulative figure of 1 million tonnes in 2017. Now it seems to have reached the point where its (presumably) rising MOP costs can't match stagnant MOP prices, hence the switch in focus to polyhalite.

A tonne of MOP requires around 4 tonnes of ore to be hoist and put through a processing plant. Switching to polyhalite gives a product where a tonne of hoist should give a tonne of saleable product and will enable Boulby to close its processing plant. Therefore the lower selling price of polyhalite that you quote isn't so much of an issue.

With Sirius's first production timetabled for mid-2022, it is to be hoped that Boulby can establish a profitable polyhalite market and secure its remaining 500 jobs. As discussed on this forum in past months, having 2 suppliers will make customers more comfortable, and the presence of up to 3 million tonnes of Boulby poly in the market won't make much of a dint in Sirius's 20 million tonne domination.

But it will be interesting to watch how this pans out in the future. I'm sure CF knows exactly what dowry it's worth offering to ICL in order to bring Boulby into the SXX fold. Although for the locality, the win-win is presumably 500 jobs at Boulby and 1000 jobs at Woodsmith.


Good Stuff ... via iii SXX

"Boulby have to mine approx. 4 tonnes of sylvinite then put it through a processing plant to get 1 tonne of MOP. The processing plant (the big building you can see from the coast road) uses an energy intensive process to extract the MOP from the other salts and insoluble clays in the ore.

With polyhalite, a tonne of mined ore only needs crushing and screening to turn it into a tonne of saleable product.

If polyhalite can be sold at a discount of around 20% to MOP (based on your figures) and produced at an operating cost which is more than 75% less than that of MOP then the economics of the switch would seem to be robust.

The polyhalite seam which is shared by Boulby and Woodsmith is around 300 metres nearer the surface at Boulby (1250m v 1550m). Boulby therefore enjoys ambient rock temperatures around 5'C lower than Woodsmith: but Woodsmith reports a far thicker seam.

Boulby have accessed the polyhalite seam by means of a several hundred metre-long ramp from the MOP. A conveyor takes the polyhalite to the shaft bottom. The Sirius prospectus states that one mining machine can deliver 1.6 million tonnes of polyhalite a year so presumably Boulby will be able to deliver its targeted output without significant investment (in fact, Woodsmith looks like it will be leasing its mining equipment: it is not provided for in S2 financing)."

Your mind is my warehouse ;-) if you want these posts removing ... no guarantees.

ps HP Birthday Brenda X  flaming Antis ...


Jake The Stake's picture

Sirius LGF - Loose Ends

Pixie from iii :-)

"An interesting meeting where you always learn something new.

1. The updated model of WS was shown. Tom C will have to be in a microlight or similar if he wants to see this" industrialisation" of the NYMNP !!

2. Issue 10 of the SM update was available. It is probably hiding somewhere in the new website, but I have not found it yet. It features the progress, the year ahead and some community items. Of interest to anyone visiting Whitby, there is an exhibition at the Museum from mid- Feb onwards. This will include exhibitions on the history, mineral deposit, geology and exploration, as well as info on the construction, mining process and project development.

3. SM14b is "around" 1350m and will be complete in a " month or two". I would add that there were no technical people from SM and so I was unable to ascertain if there would be some deflection drilling at the polyhalite as mentioned in the Prospectus.

4. D- walling will continue for most of 2018 in the order of service shaft, product shaft and MTS shaft.

5. The Lockwood Beck access shaft would appear to be intersecting water bearing strata because they are going to freeze the upper part. Work on installing the freeze pipes and freeze plant will be done in the first half of this year. Shaft sinking in the second half.

6. Work has started at Wilton and during this year will involve the construction of a below ground portal from which a TBM will be launched. This will be the end of this year or the beginning of next.

7. The seismic work on the MTS should be complete in 2-3 months. Not said with much conviction - I think a neck was being stuck out !!

8. Boulby was mentioned both on the T/O rumours and the upcoming redundancies. With regard to the rumours Gareth simply said that "we are fully focused on our own project". R & C BC have been in touch with SM on the job front and SM are providing them with their anticipated job ramp-up timetable.

I hope this is of interest


Thank You.

Dark Dreams.

Jake The Stake's picture

SXX : Global Liaison

"Among those joining Mrs May on the trade mission will be blue-chip public companies including BP, HSBC, Inmarsat, Standard Chartered, Sirius Minerals, Standard Life Aberdeen, AstraZeneca and the London Stock Exchange Group, an insider who has seen the list said on Friday.

The composition of the delegation also reflects many of the Government's priorities ‎outlined in the industrial strategy it published late last year...  other organisations due to attend, according to a source, are the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board; Arup, the engineering consultancy; Busy Bees, a chain of nurseries; China-Britain Business Council; Cambridge Science Park; Connect China‎; the Eden Project; Kendal Nutricare, an infant formula maker; Manchester University; PriestmanGoode, a transport design consultancy; R5FX, a foreign exchange trading business; Rooney Fish; advanced materials producer Versarien; Whittard of Chelsea, the upmarket tea producer; and WorldFirst, a foreign currency specialist..."

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May would visit China from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2.

"The probability of two products having the same 'fingerprints' is so minuscule, that in practice, it can only be described as non-existent," said the team leader Thomas Just Sorensen. "It corresponds to a one out of an enormous number composed of a 6 followed by 104 zeros."

Researchers commingled three tubs of sand grains, each of which are added with three rare earths, europium, terbium and dysprosium and pulls a part of them to attach those commingled grains to products."

The 500,000 tpa “take or pay offtake agreement” with Huaken International is for seven years from the mine’s first year of production.

An aggregate 700,000 metric tonnes ...

Thou must not count chickens...


Captain Black's picture

Wheels Up

"Touching down in China will provide Theresa May a temporary geographic escape from her critics. But this trip is also a desperately needed chance to project authority.

Like it or not, in politics the images that voters see matter, and matter a lot. So leaders often invest a lot in the art of looking important... "

"In the next few days, Theresa May will have put physical distance between herself and her woes, but she can't hide from her party's problems.

Any number of smiling, carefully choreographed photo opportunities abroad can't change the domestic backdrop. However successful any prime minister's trip might be, they eventually have to fly home."

Ah, so ...

One for the weekend ..

Oh, OK:-

Lions not sheep.


Benefitz Betty's picture

One Giant Leap ...

"4:35pm 13th February 2018
(Updated 4:36pm 13th February 2018)

Sirius Minerals, the company behind the development of Woodsmith Mine near Whitby, has launched a new exhibition about the project at Whitby Museum. 

Entitled ‘From Woodsmith to the World: The Story of Sirius Minerals’ Polyhalite Project,’ the exhibition takes visitors through the geological and mining history of the area, and describes how the mine will be built and function, before detailing the role the company’s polyhalite fertilizer will play in helping farmers around the world increase crop yields to feed a growing global population.  The exhibition also covers the community work the company is doing in the local area and their collaboration on environmental projects with the North York Moors National Park Authority.

Matt Parsons, External Affairs Manager for Sirius Minerals, said:

“The mine has generated a lot of local interest in the area, due to the jobs and investment the project will provide. The exhibition is an opportunity for people to find out about how the unique polyhalite deposit we’ve found here in North Yorkshire can have a significant impact on global food production.”

Sirius Minerals’ project involves the construction of two deep mineshafts to access the polyhalite deposit, connected to a 23 mile tunnel to transport the mineral via conveyor belt to Teesside, where it will be processed and shipped around the world.  Construction of the mine began last year and is due to enter production in late 2021, creating up to 2500 jobs and £2.5bn of exports.

Hazel Wright, from Whitby Museum, said:

“There is a long history of mining in Yorkshire and the North East, and lots of curiosity, knowledge and expertise amongst local people on the topic. So we were delighted when Sirius proposed the idea of holding an exhibition in the museum.  There is also an interesting story to tell about their exploration of the geology of the area, which ties in well with many of the permanent exhibits in the museum.”

Matt Parsons said:

“It’s a real privilege to work on such an exciting and ambitious project that will help promote the region across the world. We want to have a project that everybody can be proud of, and we hope that the exhibition conveys the importance of the project for the area and the passion behind it.”

The exhibition ‘From Woodsmith to the World: The Story of Sirius Minerals’ Polyhalite Project,’ is open from Tuesday 13th February at Whitby Museum, Pannett Park, Whitby YO21 1RE.  The museum is open from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm every day except Mondays."

"Sirius Minerals is seeking a People and Engagement Co-ordinator to help shape and communicate activities and campaigns to support connected, engaged and committed teams throughout the business. Reporting to the People Director, this role will join a fast paced and dynamic department that plays a vital role in the development of the organisation."