Anglo American said in a statement: "The company is planning improvements to the design of the underground elements of the mine and infrastructure to make it more efficient, scalable and to bring it up to Anglo American’s standards."
After nearly 12 years at the helm of the project, the businessman Chris Fraser has decided to step down as the project’s chief executive.
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He has moved on to a strategic projects role for Anglo American.
The statement added: "Chris is the project’s founder and has driven it from a vision to the multi-billion pound infrastructure development that it is today. He will be replaced by Tom McCulley, who has led the successful development of the company’s huge Quellaveco copper project in Peru.
Mark Cutifani, Chief Executive of Anglo American, said: “We are very happy with the high quality and exciting potential of Woodsmith, with the scale and quality of the polyhalite orebody pointing to a Q1 operating cost position and strong margins.
"This is a very long-life asset and we are going to take the necessary time to get every aspect of the design right to match our long term vision and value aspirations.
“We are enormously grateful to Chris Fraser for his founding vision over some 12 years in bringing Woodsmith to reality – a project with sustainability principles at the core of its design and in the product itself.
"His dedicated leadership in progressing the project this far and integrating it into our organisation, and doing so while making considerable construction progress during the upheavals of the pandemic, also deserves enormous credit. As we move towards full project execution, it is a natural time for Chris to step into a new role and I’m pleased that we will benefit from his experience as he works with us on a number of strategic projects.
“I am delighted that Tom McCulley, currently CEO of Anglo American in Peru, who has so skilfully steered our Quellaveco copper project to a point of pre-commissioning, on time and on budget, will now lead the development of Woodsmith as CEO of our Crop Nutrients business. I am confident that Tom and his team will finalise our plans and then deliver the project we all envisage safely and with great precision.”
Chris Fraser, outgoing chief executive of Anglo American’s Crop Nutrients business, said: “The Woodsmith Project continues to deliver huge investment on the North Yorkshire Coast and on Teesside and has created thousands of jobs since its creation.
“I am incredibly proud of the hardworking team at Anglo American that work tirelessly to deliver this project, which is not only benefiting local communities but also contributes to the UK economy and will eventually help to improve fertiliser practices and food production around the world, bringing significant environmental benefits.
“I want to thank the many people that have supported the project over the years and I, like them, look forward to seeing it successfully come into production in the coming years.”
In 2020, Anglo American tabled a successful offer for Scarborough-based Sirius Minerals, which was behind the project to mine polyhalite, for use in the production of fertiliser, from its site at Sneaton, near Whitby.