Anglo American's Woodsmith mine near Whitby has created thousands of jobs, and most are taken by locals

Hundreds of jobs have been created for people in the Scarborough and Whitby area through the Woodsmith polyhalite mine  in the North York Moors National Park.

By Corinne Macdonald
Thursday, 8th July 2021, 12:06 pm
Updated Thursday, 8th July 2021, 12:09 pm
An aerial view of the Woodsmith mine from Anglo American
An aerial view of the Woodsmith mine from Anglo American

The mine project, at Sneaton near Whitby was taken over by Anglo American in 2020 after it took over former owners Sirius Minerals.

When complete it will produce polyhalite, a naturally occurring mineral which can be sold as a crop fertiliser.

Of the 1,300 strong workforce, 70 per cent are local residents, Dr Briony Fox, director of conservation and polyhalite project at the North York Moors National Park told members of the park’s authority.

Sign up to our daily The Scarborough News Today newsletter

“A wide range of activity has been delivered by Scarborough Council and Anglo American under the Scarborough Employment Opportunities contribution,” she said, adding: “Apprentice engineers have been recruited and the mine is giving support to the Scarborough Jobmatch and Skills Village initiatives which provides training and support for local people to access the jobs market.”

Robert Goodwill, MP for Scarborough and Whitby, said: “This is great news that Anglo American are delivering on their commitment to recruit locally.

“This will have tremendous knock on effects on the wider economy as workers spend locally.”

Gareth Edmunds, corporate relations director for Anglo American Crop Nutrients, said: “We have a longstanding commitment to employ as many people from the local area as possible and we will continue to employ locally as the Woodsmith Project progresses over the coming years.”

Anglo American say that up to 1,000 direct long term jobs will be created for highly skilled employees by the mine project as well as up to 1,500 further jobs in the supply chain.

Dr Fox said in her address to the North York Moors park authority that in the next 12 months, the mine is to address schemes of conditions discharge and to continue site monitoring of the mine.

In addition, she added, Anglo American will also engage in activities with partner organisations to promote the tourism industry in the National Park through grants.

The Woodsmith mine project was conceived in 2010 by Sirius Minerals though construction did not begin until May 2017 after several years of back and forth to get planning permission.

It involves sinking two mineshafts into the polyhalite ore over a mile beneath the surface and the construction of a 23 mile tunnel to a processing and shipping plant on Teesside.

Work on the tunnel began in June 2018 with tunnel boring machines arriving in April 2019.

What is polyhalite fertiliser?

Polyhalite is a naturally occurring mineral which contains four of the six nutrients needed for plant growth - potassium, sulphur, magnesium and calcium.

Anglo American will sell it as a low chloride, multi-nutrient fertiliser suitable for organic use that can boost crop yields and aid more sustainable farming.

Polyhalite is only mined from a layer of rock on the North Yorkshire coast which was deposited 260 million years ago.

The Boulby Mine near Staithes is currently the only producer of polyhalite in the world .

As well as being sold in Europe, key markets for the fertiliser are China and Brazil.