North Yorkshire Council to meet with Anglo American amid concerns about impact on jobs

Woodmith Mine (Anglo American)
Woodmith Mine (Anglo American) -Credit:The Gazette

North Yorkshire Council will meet with Anglo American to discuss a 'hostile takeover' amid serious concerns about an impact on jobs in Whitby.

The leader of the council has said he has called for a timely meeting with the mining giant Anglo American to discuss a slow down of the Whitby area's Woodsmith mining project. Coun Carl Les, the head of NYC, told a full meeting on Tuesday, May 15, that he would be meeting with the company by next Thursday at the latest and would raise the proposed £34bn "hostile takeover" bid by Australian company BHP.

On Tuesday morning, the company said: "In the near term, Anglo American will slow the development of the Woodsmith project to support Anglo American's balance sheet deleveraging." The company is developing a polyhalite fertiliser mine and a 23-mile tunnel as part of a plan that includes transporting the product to Teesside and selling the fertiliser globally to boost crop yields.

Coun Carl Les said: "Members will be aware of the recent announcement of a hostile takeover of Anglo American. We are not clear about the implications yet, I have a scheduled meeting with them in a week's time to discuss the community fund which they administer."

Coun Les added: "We are trying to get a more timely meeting with them but if not, we will use that meeting next Thursday to discuss with them the implications of this. We are also discussing this issue with the mayor's office."

Coun Neil Swannick (Whitby Streonshalh division), said he had hoped to ask an emergency question at the full meeting on Wednesday but was not able to do so due to time constraints. "My question would have highlighted the 2,000 good quality jobs in our area of which 1,400 are currently filled by local people, and the huge local investment that has already been made and was planned to be made in the future," he said.

Coun Swannick added: "I intended to ask Coun Les if he would encourage his North Yorkshire MP colleague and prime minister, Rishi Sunak, to request a similar meeting with Anglo American".

Scarborough and Whitby MP, Sir Robert Goodwill, has said that Government involvement is "unlikely" and that he hoped the company "might think again".

Tom McCulley, CEO of Anglo American's Crop Nutrients business, said: "Anglo American has again stated that Woodsmith is central to its growth plans." He added: "I know that this announcement will create uncertainty, but we will keep our workforce and community stakeholders updated as we work through the details of what this means for everyone."

The takeover news has generated international interest, including among world leaders. The company was founded in South Africa more than a century ago and the country's president Cyril Ramaphosa recently had a "long" meeting with its CEO to discuss a possible break-up of the company, according to the Financial Times.