Job cuts at the Woodsmith Project amid slowdown of multibillion-pound fertiliser mine

Anglo American's Woodsmith Project
-Credit: (Image: Anglo American)


The global mining giant behind the Woodsmith Project in North Yorkshire and Teesside has confirmed jobs are to be lost on the scheme.

Following news earlier this year that investment in the multibillion pound mine scheme is to be slashed, Anglo American says it is in a consultation period about proposed changes. It told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that it will reduce its own workforce by around 50% over the next year, meaning 160 jobs are to go.

But it has also been reported that many more jobs within the contractor supply chain could also be at risk. Tom McCulley, CEO of Anglo American’s Crop Nutrients business, said the slowdown in development was being done in such a way that work could be accelerated again "as soon as we can".

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Mr McCulley said: "We know that this slowdown is hard for everyone affected, and we are doing everything we can to minimise the impact on our workforce and the local community. The support we have for the project has been fantastic and we are determined to try to sustain that trust during this difficult phase.

"We are currently working closely with a number of local organisations on a workforce and supply chain support programme that will help people affected by the slowdown to find new roles in the local area through our partnerships with other businesses, suppliers and local councils."

The Woodsmith Project includes the 37km tunnel that will eventually connect the mine site, near Whitby, with a processing and export facility at Redcar. Earlier this year Anglo said it had completed 27.5km of the tunnel, which is due to host a conveyor system that will take the polyhalite fertiliser brought up from underneath the North York Moors to Teesside.

That update came at the same time Anglo published results showing a steep 94% decline in profits to £222m ($283m), which it said came on the back of a downturn in platinum group metals (PGMs) and diamonds. Only weeks ago the firm fought off a £34bn takeover approach from rivals BHP Billiton.

Anglo purchased the Woodsmith project from Sirius Minerals in a £405m deal in 2020. Last year the firm changed the scope and design of the mine and recorded a £1.4bn impairment in its results.

James Farrar, interim head of paid services at York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority, said: “The announcement surrounding the future of Anglo American’s Woodsmith Project is understandably of concern to the many staff, and associated businesses, which depend on the long-term viability of the site. The mine is a major regional employer, drawing its workforce from Scarborough, Whitby and other nearby rural and urban areas. While York and North Yorkshire Combined Authority (YNYCA) is disappointed to learn of Anglo American’s decision to slow development at the Woodsmith Project, we consider the mine integral to our economic ambitions as a region.

“The Combined Authority and the York and North Yorkshire Mayor have, therefore, committed to ensuring every affected employee at the Woodsmith Project is connected to opportunities for reemployment, skills training and small-business support. I’d like to reassure those affected workers that we are listening to you and that through a multi-agency approach we will ensure you have access to the full range of available support services."