Sirius Minerals : Quarterly Progress Update

Benefitz Betty's picture

"29 March 2018  Sirius Minerals Plc Quarterly progress update

§ The project remains on track to deliver first polyhalite and commercial production on time and on budget

§ Tunnelling contract signed with STRABAG for drive 1 of the Mineral Transport System from Wilton to Lockwood Beck

§ Shaft sinking contract signed with DMC and the contractor handover process is largely complete

§ Opportunities to accelerate the production of first polyhalite by up to six months are being progressed with DMC

§ Production shaft bore hole intersected a total of 53m of polyhalite and demonstrated consistency with previous holes

Sirius Minerals Plc ("Sirius" or the "Company") provides its latest quarterly progress update.  Chris Fraser, Managing Director and CEO of Sirius, commented:

"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.  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 fertilizer 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.


The project's Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate ("LTIFR") stands at 2.4.  The LTIFR is a measure of lost time incidents per million man-hours on a twelve-month rolling average basis.  The Company is working closely with its contractors to continually improve the safety culture at all locations.   


The Company has entered into a design and build contract with STRABAG AG, a subsidiary of STRABAG SE ("STRABAG"), for the construction of the Mineral Transport System ("MTS") drive between Wilton and Lockwood Beck.  STRABAG is one of the world's leading civil engineering and tunnelling contractors. 

Sirius has undertaken a competitive tender process in respect of drive 1 of the MTS, from Wilton to Lockwood Beck, to ensure that the best tunnelling option was developed.  STRABAG provided a compelling offer in terms of price, schedule, safety management and risk allocation.  The commercial arrangement with STRABAG is lump sum, with fixed rates for tunnelling advance.  The price is based on a defined and agreed geotechnical baseline report, with firm pricing for a range of expected support classes within the build.  The cost of this work will be incurred in GBP.  Both the cost and schedule of this scope of work fit within the overall project estimate and schedule. 

The Company continues to work closely with a number of parties in relation to the second and third drives of the MTS (Lockwood Beck towards Woodsmith and Woodsmith towards Lockwood Beck respectively) with a view to having these scopes of work awarded in conjunction with the completion of the stage 2 financing.   


All stage 2 debt financing workstreams are progressing well with the past three months spent finalising due diligence materials, undertaking discussion with key stakeholders and working with lenders' consultants and our advisors.  The Company will commence re-engaging with potential lenders over the coming weeks and into the second quarter.  This is the first major milestone in the 2018 timetable which is aiming to have commitments in place during the second half of 2018.

Cost and schedule

The Company remains on track to produce first polyhalite and commercial production on time and on budget.  The Company has undertaken a number of initiatives to improve D-walling scope productivity and return to schedule following delays arising from issues including adverse weather conditions.  The change in shaft sinking contractor and using the Herrenknecht Shaft Boring Road header has provided the Company with an opportunity to accelerate the delivery of first polyhalite production by up to six months.      

Site preparation and infrastructure

The connection of construction power supply to all construction sites is progressing smoothly.  All ducting work associated with the Woodsmith Mine site is now complete and cable pulling is underway. Ducting work associated with Lockwood Beck is ongoing.  The 11kV cable for the Wilton site has been installed at the site boundary ready for termination.  Primary switchgear manufacturing has commenced, and multiple factory acceptance tests have been undertaken. In addition, the tender process for on-site generation is nearing completion. 

Site preparation works at the Woodsmith Mine site and Lockwood Beck are now complete.  At Wilton, vegetation clearance has been completed.

Geotechnical investigation

The production shaft borehole, SM14B, reached total depth of 1,627m during the period.  A total of 53m of polyhalite was intersected with very similar characteristics to the intersection recorded at the service shaft.  The process of drilling a side track has now commenced with a view to obtaining an additional intersection of polyhalite. 

The shallow ground investigation for the Wilton portal and MHF site is nearing completion.  The MTS tunnel ground investigation programme is also progressing to plan.  Information pertaining to the first drive, from Wilton to Lockwood Beck, has already been incorporated into the procurement process while additional information for the other drives is being collected and analysed. 

Shaft sinking

D-walling activities are continuing on the services shaft.  20 panels are in progress or have been completed with a total of 48 panels required to complete the foreshaft for the service shaft.  The Company has undertaken a number of initiatives to improve D-Walling productivity.  These include changing the cutting head design and increasing operating hours.  The Company is confident of recovering the lost time over the remainder of the project schedule.

Once D-walling activities are complete, excavation and fit-out of the foreshafts and surface basements will commence.  The Company has contract terms agreed with its preferred contractor for the civils works to excavate the foreshafts, and with Arup for engineering and design. 

The shaft sinking contract with DMC Mining ("DMC") was executed 13 February.  Activity on the DMC side is progressing well with orders for the Shaft Boring Roadheaders having been placed within a week of the contract being signed. Adopting this improved shaft sinking methodology opens opportunities to accelerate first polyhalite production by up to six months. The transition from AMC to DMC has progressed smoothly with all practical aspects complete.  All on-site works associated with AMC will be completed in the second quarter, which is largely driven by the timing of the completion of the production shaft borehole scope of work.   

Agronomy, Sales and Marketing

The Company is progressing key commercial discussions with a view to delivering on the 2018 milestone of entering into additional supply agreements.  These discussions are with significant participants in key regional markets globally as we look to build on the tier one customer base we have already secured, including Wilmar International. 

The Company has initiated 14 new agronomy trials so far in 2018.  These new trials include a number of on-farm trials in Europe and the USA.  Trial results from Europe, China and Africa were processed during the quarter.  The results reinforced POLY4 as a unique, natural, multi-nutrient fertilizer which boosts quality and yields more than common alternatives currently used by farmers on a wide range of crops across different geographies and climates.

Other project activities

Front end engineering and design ("FEED") work for all other scopes of the project are progressing well with partners identified and commercial engagement occurring in parallel with FEED activities. 

The Company is on track for procurement to be substantially complete by the middle of 2018 to facilitate the completion of the stage 2 financing process.


STRABAG SE is a publicly listed European-based technology group for construction services and a leading international transportation infrastructure, building construction and civil engineering contractor.

STRABAG SE is a global leader in tunnelling technologies and a specialist in providing technically optimized end-to-end tunnelling solutions worldwide.  Their extensive experience and track record on some of the world's largest and most technically challenging projects includes the excavation of tunnels and caverns, TBM operations of all kinds including soft ground and hard rock, and long, deep tunnels. 

Further information can be found at 

Investor webcast

Sirius Minerals' Finance Director, Thomas Staley, will host a webcast for investors and analysts at 10.00 am today. 

The webcast can be listened to live by clicking on the link below. A replay will be available on the Company's website in due course."

The important bit:

"The production shaft borehole, SM14B, reached total depth of 1,627m during the period.  A total of 53m of polyhalite was intersected with very similar characteristics to the intersection recorded at the service shaft."



Benefitz Betty's picture

SXX: Coasting

"Simon Carter is the Chief Development Officer at Sirius, he added:

"We undertook a competitive tender process in respect of drive 1 of the Mineral Transport System, from Wilton to Lockwood Beck, to ensure that the best tunnelling option was developed.

STRABAG provided a compelling offer in terms of price, schedule, safety management and risk allocation.”

via YCR96.2fm

Digging/Tunnelling  from Wilton end doesn't need a shaft.


Benefitz Betty's picture

SXX: Smeg or Smug

Gearing for Stage II finance

"11 April 2018   Sirius Minerals Plc
Invitation for incentivised conversion of convertible bonds

Sirius Minerals Plc (the "Company" or the "Offeror") today announces an invitation (the "Invitation") to holders (the "Bondholders") of the outstanding US$400,000,000 8.5% Guaranteed Convertible Bonds due 2023 (ISIN: XS151522356) (the "Bonds") issued by Sirius Minerals Finance Limited (the "Issuer") and guaranteed by the Company, to offer to exercise their Conversion Rights (as defined in the terms of the Bonds) in order to convert their Bonds into ordinary shares of the Company (the "Ordinary Shares") and a cash make whole amount.

The Bonds were issued as part of the Company's stage one financing, which completed in late 2016.   Further details of the formal invitation are set out below.


The Bonds are presently capable of being converted and, as at the date of this announcement, are trading substantially "in‐the‐money". With this invitation, the Company is seeking to accelerate the conversion of the Bonds into Ordinary Shares, with a view to:

·     reducing outstanding debt in advance of the Company's stage two financing later this year

·     enabling the Company to release some of the cash which was set aside in a secured escrow account to cover interest payments on the Bonds

·     reducing hedging activities in respect of the Ordinary Shares by some Bondholders

·     reducing overhang on the Ordinary Shares underlying the Bonds from ongoing potential ad-hoc conversions and enabling unwinding of associated hedges.

The invitation is open until 3pm (London time) on 16 April 2018. A further announcement will be made as soon as reasonable practicable thereafter confirming the outcome of the Invitation (which is at the sole discretion of the Company).

Sirius Minerals' Finance Director and CFO, Thomas Staley, comments:

"At Sirius Minerals we are always searching for ways to improve and adapt all aspects of our business. This Invitation for conversion provides the opportunity to facilitate orderly conversion for Bondholders while enabling the Company to optimise its capital structure ahead of stage two financing later this year."

The well versed ;-0

Zzzzzz ... ;-0

Benefitz Betty's picture

SXX: Smaug

"17 April 2018 - Sirius Minerals Plc

Results of incentivised conversion of convertible bonds

Sirius Minerals Plc (the "Company") reports, further to its announcement on 11 April 2018, the final results from its invitation (the "Invitation") to holders (the "Bondholders") of those outstanding of the US$400,000,000 8.5% Guaranteed Convertible Bonds due 2023 (ISIN: XS151522356) (the "Bonds") issued by Sirius Minerals Finance Limited and guaranteed by the Company, to offer to exercise their Conversion Rights (as defined in the terms of the Bonds) in order to convert the Bonds into ordinary shares of the Company (the "Ordinary Shares") and a cash make whole amount.

Following expiration of the Invitation at 3.00 p.m. (London time) on 16 April 2018, the Final Offer Consideration has been fixed at US$10,000 per US$200,000 in principal amount of the Bonds. The Company has accepted for conversion US$63.8 million in aggregate principal amount of the Bonds in accordance with the terms and conditions set out in the Invitation Term Sheet dated 11 April 2018.

In total, 218,113,663 Ordinary Shares are expected to be issued, which comprises (i) 650,195.05852 Base Shares per Bond, (ii) 10,236.89485 Premium to Parity Shares per Bond, and (iii) 23,310.02331 Incentive Shares per Bond. The dilution resulting from the issue of the Incentive Shares represents less than 0.16 per cent. of the enlarged share capital of the Company.

Following settlement of the Invitation, US$244.2 million in principal amount of the Bonds (representing 61.1 per cent. of the aggregate principal amount of the Bonds originally issued) are expected to remain outstanding.

As a result of the Invitation, the Company has saved US$27.1 million in interest which would otherwise have been payable had the Bonds accepted for conversion been held until maturity. Further there will be an immediate positive cash impact for the Company, which will receive the third-year's interest payments of US$5.4 million with respect to those Bonds (which amounts are currently held in escrow).

Sirius Minerals' Finance Director and CFO, Thomas Staley, commented:

"We are pleased with the level of participation in our tender process.  The total cost of incentivising conversion through the issue of shares was more than offset by the release of escrowed cash and removal of the need to pay interest payments beyond year two.  This has enabled us to facilitate an orderly conversion for bondholders and optimise our capital structure ahead of stage two financing later this year."

Settlement of the Invitation

Settlement of the Invitation is expected to occur on 23 April 2018. Application will be made by the Company to the United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority and the London Stock Exchange for the Ordinary Shares to be issued pursuant to the Invitation to be listed on the Official List and admitted to trading on the London Stock Exchange's main market for listed securities with effect from the settlement date for the Invitation. The new Ordinary Shares to be issued will rank pari passu with the existing Ordinary Shares.

Following the issue and delivery of the Ordinary Shares pursuant to the Invitation, the total number of Ordinary Shares and voting rights in the Company will be 4,689,535,797. The Company does not hold any Ordinary Shares in treasury. The above figure may be used by Shareholders as the denominator for the calculations by which they will determine if they are required to notify their interest in, or a change to their interest in, the share capital of the Company under the FCA's Disclosure Rules and Transparency Guidance and the articles of association of the Company.

Deutsche Bank AG, London Branch acted as sole Dealer Manager in relation to the Invitation.

Words and expressions used in this press release and not defined herein shall have the same meaning as provided in the Invitation Term Sheet."

The Five

A Monopoly of stupidity?

IMV this was an exercise to erm, give those with a prior 'material investment' in the project an early opt out  following changes to 'circumstance' made since the bonds were issued.

The Logical ;-)

tis SfX week ...

Captain Qahn's picture

SXX : The Polygraph on Tele

Jon Yeomans 12 MAY 2018 - 10:00AM

The Wilton International chemical estate on Teesside is a windswept expanse of scrubland and giant industrial hulks. Power stations rub up against a Tesco distribution centre and a hi-tech ethylene cracker, a warren of twisted metal towers around a squat cooling tower. High fences, CCTV cameras and checkpoints are reminders that some of the UK's most important oil and gas lines come ashore here.

In a matter of weeks Wilton's newest tenant hopes to break ground on one of the biggest projects Teesside has seen in years. Sirius Minerals, the ambitious fertiliser producer of the FTSE 250, wants to transport its product 23 miles underground from its mine in Yorkshire to process and ship it from new facilities at Teesside.

Engineers will soon begin digging the entrance of the tunnel at Wilton, from where it will be transported just a few hundred yards to the mouth of the Tees. Sirius wants to build its own loading dock at Teesside. Before then, however, it hopes to make use of the dock that shipped metal from the steelworks at Redcar, which closed in 2015. The abandoned steelworks, at the tip of the Wilton site, casts a long shadow over the area.

Sirius has proven many of its doubters wrong. But with work on its mine set to begin in earnest, and a second round of funding sought this year, bigger challenges lie ahead. Can it finance and build one of the biggest engineering projects this country has attempted in decades? And can it actually sell the potash-based product it seeks to mine from the depths of the North York Moors?

"It's the single biggest private investment in the 'northern powerhouse' and indeed all of Europe, " says Ben Houchen, the Tory mayor of Tees Valley. Houchen is keen to let people know that the Teesside economy has been better than people think it's been, with unemployment hitting a record low. But he acknowledges that many of the former steelworkers are now in lower paid jobs. [Sirius will create] manufacturing jobs we've not seen in the area for many decades.

Will Woods agrees that the project will be just as important for Teesside as Yorkshire. Once Sirius has built its mine - it has an end date of 2021 in mind - it will concentrate on shipping as much of its fertiliser through Teesport as possible. Woods came on board in 2011 as the right hand man of Chris Fraser, the Australian former banker and chief executive of Sirius who has pushed this project forward with sheer bloody-mindedness.

In the early days, Woods and Fraser went from pub to pub, holding meetings with locals to convince them of the merits of digging a vast cavern under the national park. The charm offensive resulted in them locking down hundreds of mineral rights; Sirius is already paying out "a few million" each year to home owners. Yet the battle for planning permission was even harder. "It's been a right roller-coaster, but we're building something pretty special," says Woods. For him, the mission has a personal element, as his father was one of the geologists who identified the potash lode.

The four-year planning battle was won 8-7 on the day in 2015. The council had done its due diligence, commissioning a series of reports that scrutinised everything from the mine's environmental impact to the saleability of its potash, or, strictly speaking, its polyhalite, a naturally occurring fertiliser that also includes potassium, calcium, magnesium and sulphur. Sirius has been at pains to comply with all environmental demands, planting trees and promising to build an artificial island for migrating birds.

Sirius's approach may one day be regarded as a textbook example of how to win hearts and minds. Its charitable foundation, with an annual budget of £14m, has been busy fixing community hall roofs and paying grants to schools. Fraser's well-honed pitch has gone down so well that many locals are now investors. But this only adds to the pressure on the Australian's shoulders. "Nothing's been easy," says Fraser. "The hardest bit was the planning. So much was out of our control. You had to hold your breath and hope." After so many years defending his project, Fraser has a guarded quality; wondering, perhaps, how a post-banking career developing global mining projects turned into an extended stay in Yorkshire. "It became all-encompassing," he explains.

After winning planning permission, Fraser's other big success to date is securing £1.2bn in stage-one funding in 2016. This included £245m from Australian mining billionaire Gina Rinehart. His next job is to win £2bn in loans from its banks. To do this, he needs to sign up a few more customers for Sirius£s polyhalite. It has 4.4m tons in offtake agreements already, but would like closer to 6-7m of its projected 10m per annum output. Fraser also wants the UK Treasury to sign a debt guarantee facility. Small wonder if, by his own concession, he cuts meetings short when he feels people are wasting his time.

At the Woodsmith mine, the funding raised so far is paying for the preparation of the two shafts that will be sunk to a depth of 1,500m (4,921ft). The site is in the one of the highest parts of the national park, with just 11 houses in the vicinity. A protective wall of trees and earth will soon blot out the view of Whitby and the sea, 12 miles distant. Locals were more concerned about the impact of traffic, rather than long-term environmental damage, Graham Clarke, operational director, insists.

Clarke is the man with the job of building Woodsmith. It will be the deepest mine in the UK, and second deepest in Europe. When operational, around 100 people will work underground in 40-degree heat cutting and blasting the rock-hard polyhalite. The underground conveyor belt to Teesside will travel at a depth of 360m (1,181ft), through a tunnel roughly the size of a train carriage. "We're always pushing boundaries," says Clarke. "There's a huge heritage of mining here. To be part of putting mining back on the map, I couldn't not do it."

A former boss at the nearby Boulby mine, Clarke can claim to be one of the few people to have actually mined polyhalite. Boulby was established in the Seventies to mine potash near the surface but at Clarke's instigation switched its focus to polyhalite. Aside from Woodsmith, which sits on a deposit so vast it will have at least 50 years of mine life, there are no other polyhalite producers in the world, which makes it something of an unknown quantity.

A 2015 report warned that Sirius would 'need to be highly competitive on price in order to sell the volume' & it needs to, and 'to convince farmers to bet on polyhalite.  Using polyhalite will require investment by most users in more storage or handling equipment,' analysts at Fertecon found. '[It] is unlikely to completely substitute another product.'

Sirius hopes to create 2,500 jobs

JT Starzecki, Sirius Minerals marketing manager, has the job of travelling the world and convincing farmers that they should switch to its natural fertiliser blend. He has a raft of agronomic data commissioned by Sirius behind him. "Every farm in the world uses a subset of the minerals in polyhalite," says Starzecki. Farmers are "asking for alternatives and recognising the value of secondary nutrients" he adds.

The global market for potash is rising and the world is only going to need more food. "We just have to understand how farmers decide what to buy and when they buy it and where they get their recommendations from" he says. Sirius Minerals case rests on a claim that it will have the lowest costs in the industry once it gets up and running.

It is the type of project, Clarke suggests, the UK needs. "As a country we have to take advantage of these opportunities," he says. Sirius believes it can knock 7pc off the UK's trade deficit by making around £2.5bn in exports a year. With its promise of 2,500 jobs and £500m in annual taxes, it's small wonder Teesside Mayor Houchen is lobbying hard for Sirius: The Government should be giving them their requested Treasury guarantee. It's a more than credible project. And it's good for our area."

"It is not day here, or night.

There is no view of the sun.

There is no view of the moon."


Benefitz Betty's picture

SXX: Fertile Ground & 'Delivery'

""New life could be breathed into part of the vast site of the collapsed Redcar steelworks on Teesside, after a tentative deal struck with a company behind a £2.2 billion mining project in the nearby North York Moors.

Sirius Minerals has signed a provisional agreement to lease part of the site formerly owned by Sahaviriya Steel Industries UK, the Thai company that controlled the Redcar steelworks, The Times has learnt.

The plant, where the steel for the Tyne and Sydney Harbour bridges was manufactured, collapsed into administration in September 2015, with the loss of 1,700 jobs. The closure marked the end of almost 170 years of iron and steelmaking in South Tees and the wider Tees Valley area in the northeast.

In December 2016, the site was passed by the Official Receiver to the South Tees Site Company, a government-controlled company that is seeking to regenerate the area.

Sirius, which is building a mine near Whitby to extract polyhalite £ a form of potash used to fertilise crops £ has been in talks with the South Tees Site Company about acquiring part of the 4,500-acre steelmaking site adjacent to the River Tees for several months.

The Sirius scheme is the largest private sector investment in northern England and is expected to create about 1,000 direct jobs and a further 1,500 in the supply chain.

Will Woods, of Sirius Minerals, said: "There is a big opportunity to bring our storage buildings down here . . . From the point of view of regeneration, that's a big tick in the box." He added that "heads of terms are all agreed".

A spokesman for the South Tees Site Company said: "The South Tees Development Corporation is actively having discussions with a wide range of organisations and these discussions are of a commercially sensitive nature. We have had more than 100 inquiries from potential investors in our 4,500-acre site."

Sirius has already secured a 90-acre site in Redcar close to the steelworks. It will serve as the portal at the end of a planned 37-kilometre tunnel, which will allow polyhalite mined at the site in North Yorkshire to be transported via an underground conveyor belt to Teesside for processing and export overseas by ship.

However, that site lies about four kilometres from the port on the Tees. By leasing an area of the steelworks with better access to the river, Sirius will be able to store materials and load them directly on to vessels for export more easily and potentially at lower cost. There is also an opportunity to use existing infrastructure, including port-handling and loading equipment.

SSI purchased the site from Tata Steel of India, in 2011. The company struggled with low steel prices, high energy costs and dumping in western Europe by low-cost Chinese manufacturers before it fell into receivership."

The Sirius Minerals 2018 annual general meeting (AGM) will be held at 1.00 p.m. on Thursday 31 May 2018 at The Events Centre, The Principal York, Station Road, York, YO24 1AA.

"After leaving Whitby Museum, the exhibition content will be showcased at Kirkleatham Museum’s Pavilion in Redcar between 11 June – 11 July.

Councillor Carl Quatermain, Cabinet Member for Culture, Tourism and Communications at Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council said: “There is a lot of interest in Sirius Minerals’ project locally due to the jobs and investment that it will provide, so we’re very excited to be hosting the display in Redcar.”

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


"The Quarterdeck must be retained as a tranquil area to admire the unspoilt Jurassic coastline.

She told members:

“Visitors and residents have long treasured this area, some purchasing memorial benches as lasting tributes to loved ones.

It is a place to sit and contemplate. Moving these would be highly disrespectful.

The cliff is continuously moving, albeit less dramatically behind the Quarterdeck. This is probably due to the land drains which will be disturbed during construction. Building into the hillside will alter the cliff’s stabillity.”

“There was a lot of walkers, a lot of people all enjoying walking up and down the beach there and on that top. Serenity is one thing sitting on the benches, but I don’t think it’s necessarily a quiet area.”