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Teesside company in major supply contract with Sirius Minerals

Posted on 08 March 2019

Stockton-based steel fabricator, Francis Brown Ltd, has sealed a deal to fabricate and weld 50 tonnes of steel equipment for Sirius Minerals’ new multi-billion pound polyhalite fertiliser mine in Teesside and North Yorkshire.

Under the deal, Francis Brown has been contracted by DMC Mining Services, the company sinking the mineshafts for Sirius Minerals, to manufacture steel formwork which will be used as lining for two 1,600 metre deep shafts at Woodsmith Mine in Whitby, as well as two shallower access shafts at the site near Lockwood Beck, Guisborough.  The equipment will be entirely manufactured at the company’s Stockton factory.  

Jamie Brown, CEO for Francis Brown Ltd, said:

“As a 115-year-old family business, we are glad that Sirius and DMC recognise our rich heritage in providing unique fabrication and welding skills to a range of industries. The work we are doing is not only supporting real jobs and providing opportunities for our own apprentices, but also the wider community, through local stockists and sub-contractors.”

The company is a global supplier of fabrication and engineering services to the renewables, chemical, rail, nuclear, power, construction and oil and gas markets, and has long been associated with projects of global importance. “It’s great to add the mining sector to this versatile mix,” said Mr Brown.

There are currently 900 people directly working on the Sirius project – in Scarborough, at Woodsmith Mine near Whitby and at the Lockwood Beck and Wilton sites.  Two thirds of the employees are from the local area. This includes 320 people from Teesside, most of whom are based at Wilton International, where over three quarters of the workforce is local.  The company expects this construction workforce to increase to 1,700 in the coming years, and to provide over 1,000 long term, permanent jobs when the mine is fully operational.

Gareth Edmunds, External Affairs Director at Sirius Minerals, said:

“We are delighted that our contractors are working with local partners to manufacture the equipment and services required for construction.  This supports our aim of maximising local benefits, including the creation of new jobs and business opportunities with our suppliers.  The company has always been committed to ensuring that the local community benefits from the project - working with local businesses and developing a strong local supply chain is an important way we can do that.”

Two 1,600m deep shafts are being excavated at Sirius Minerals’ Woodsmith Mine site in Whitby, North Yorkshire, to reach a seam of a mineral called polyhalite, a natural fertiliser.  Once the ore is extracted, it will be transported through a 23-mile long underground tunnel to a new processing plant and harbour facility on Teesside, adjacent to the former SSI steelwork site which closed in 2015 – resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs.

Sirius expects to reach the polyhalite seam in 2021 and to be producing 10 million tonnes of fertiliser per annum by 2024.