In this latest entry in our six-part series detailing Careys’ contributions to the landmark Woodsmith Mine project in Whitby, Yorkshire, we’ll be discussing our role in the construction of the crucial production and service shafts.

Once completed, these shafts will both extend to a depth of 1,530m – four times the length of New York City’s soaring Empire State Building. They will enable the mine to extract the mineral, polyhalite, from the planet’s largest and richest vein of this material, which is in growing demand across the globe as a form of fertiliser.

Efficiently and rapidly completing the initial phases of the mine’s vital shafts

Careys has been acting as principal contractor on the initial construction phases of Woodsmith Mine’s all-important production and service shafts. In this capacity we have been responsible for excavating the pre-sink shafts to a depth of 120m, which is the level to which the hydrogeologists say that the earth will remain dry. Once we have successfully created the foreshafts, a specialist company will continue the excavations down to 1,530m.

In order to ensure that all aspects of this part of the project would function smoothly and efficiently, we deployed our characteristically meticulous planning process and innovative approach. We received invaluable support in these efforts from in-house Careys Design Team, which provided digital and construction engineering expertise and state-of-the-art building information modelling (BIM) techniques.

As a result of our thorough research and planning, we have been able to implement various procedures that have enabled us to begin to quickly, efficiently and safely carry out the excavation of these foreshafts. In fact, we created the first 52.7m of the service foreshaft – which is equal to a 12-storey building – in only 15 weeks.

In keeping with our dedication to health and safety, we are not sacrificing security for speed. For example, we have de-risked the excavation programme by using telescopic excavators, rather than the more customary crane and skips. This approach has already proven highly effective in our creation of the service foreshaft.

Additionally, in order to further improve our efficiency on this phase of the project, we are utilising a 40m teledipper – the largest of its kind ever used in the UK to date – to aid in the excavations. This piece of equipment helps to assure that our programme will not be negatively impacted by adverse weather. The pace and quality of our works on these foreshafts reflect our ongoing commitment to complete projects cost-effectively, on-time and to the highest of standards.

Future updates about our works at Woodsmith Mine

In addition to our previous posts informing you about various topics related to Careys’ contributions to the Woodsmith Mine project – such as our use of digital modelling to help successfully and safely employ innovative construction methodologies – there will be several upcoming articles. You’ll be able to discover more about our extraordinary:

  • Measures to safeguard the environment, on a site set in the midst of a pristine national park
  • Health and safety steps to preserve the wellbeing of everyone on site
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