Environment

From the outset, the Company has made a commitment to protecting and enhancing the environment, which we believe is demonstrated in the Project's low impact design and operational philosophy:

Sirius MInerals Woodsmith Mine CG image

Mine location

Protected moorland and prominent sites have been avoided in favour of a location that is away from local villages and uses the natural topography and existing woodland as screening.

Reducing visual impact

The number and height of surface buildings will be limited to a minimum to reduce their visual impact. We have taken the decision to partially sink the shaft head frames below the surface. The vast majority of material excavated during construction will be retained on site. It will be landscaped and planted to ensure that surface buildings are not visible from outside the site.

Mineral Transport System

All mined ore will be transported to Teesside via an underground tunnel in recognition of the sensitivity of the area and the lack of suitable road and rail infrastructure.

Processing outside of the National Park

All of the mined polyhalite will be granulated at Teesside to minimise the industrial footprint inside the National Park.

Simple and energy efficient processing

Every tonne of polyhalite mined is product. To produce POLY4 involves a simple granulation process which does not require chemical processing and has no waste products. The estimated value of the global warming potential (GWP) of POLY4 is 0.051 kg CO2e per kg product. This is considerably lower than other potassium source fertilizers like muriate of potash (0.13 – 0.265 kg CO2e/kg) and common sulphur source fertilizers like ammonium sulphate (0.58 kg CO2e/kg).

CARBON OFFSETTING

Significant funding through our Section 106 planning permission agreements will provide £130 million to safeguard and enhance the local landscape and offset carbon emissions. This includes a tree planting programme of over 7,000 hectares that will have a positive effect on the character and landscape of the National Park, and create more diverse wildlife habitats.


MITIGATING THE IMPACT OF CONSTRUCTION

We abide by strict environmental limits which govern our activity during the construction phase and work closely with regulatory authorities to ensure that these are met. Our Construction Environmental Management Framework (CEMF) ensures that all environmental impacts during construction are managed effectively and to the standards set out in our planning permission.

Wildlife and ecology

Most of the possible impacts on wildlife and ecology occur during construction. To minimise them we will:

  • Retain habitats wherever possible to reduce the impact on species and wildlife
  • Carry out protected species surveys and re-home wildlife as necessary
  • Implement the agreed Protected Species Management Plan
  • Position construction lighting away from sensitive ecological receptors. Lighting will be designed using guidance from the Bat Conservation Trust
  • Not restrict movement along bodies of water
  • Adopt a precautionary method of working across all of our sites to minimise the risk of harm to wildlife. We will actively encourage reptiles to move into better habitats by removing debris and cutting vegetation that could provide shelter

Lighting

Preserving the dark skies that characterise parts of the North York Moors has been a major consideration in the development of our plans. To reduce the impact of light on the local environment, we will:

  • Strictly control working hours for surface operations during the construction period
  • Enclose shafts and winding towers to enable 24 hour underground operations without light spill at the surface
  • Keep lighting at the mine to a minimum during operations and add additional shielding by creating screening mounds
  • Install shutters on our welfare building, keep car park lighting to a minimum and enclose this area with an environmental barrier to contain light from car headlights
  • Keep lighting at the Wilton materials handling facility to a safe minimum and contain our main operations within buildings

Noise and vibration

Noise from the type of modern mine we are going to build will be minimised through being located underground. To keep construction noise to a minimum, we will:

  • Ensure that full noise control measures within the Construction Environmental Management Plan and Noise and Vibration Management Plan are delivered
  • Provide notification in advance of blasting for shaft construction

Air quality

We have undertaken extensive air quality monitoring around all our proposed sites. To minimise our potential impact on air quality, we will:

  • Ensure that full dust control measures within the Construction Environmental Management Plan are implemented
  • Restrict vehicle movements and enforce a Travel Plan which sets out approved routes for contractors
  • Restrict the number of parking spaces at the mine site
  • Comply fully with Institute of Air Quality Management guidance

Hydrology

To protect existing watercourses and minimise flood risk or surface run off, we will:

  • Implement a Surface Water Drainage Strategy in line with the principles set out in our planning application
  • Use proven Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS)
  • Apply silt traps, check dams and apply level one water treatment as part of the SuDS
  • Obtain approval from the regulator for our construction methods to ensure existing watercourses are fully protected
  • Operate to the highest standards of site safety and good practice construction methods
  • Monitor surface water flows and quality and report on a monthly basis

Traffic and transport

Working with the community and the local authority to reduce the impact of our work on local roads – particularly during construction – is a priority. To keep the impact to a minimum we will:

  • Implement and enforce a Travel Plan that restricts our vehicle movements and sets out approved routes for contractors
  • Restrict the number of parking spaces at the mine site
  • Operate a Park and Ride scheme for those working at the mine to reduce the number of individual vehicles going to and from the site
  • Restrict parking at the site to those car sharing with at least two other employees

Visual and landscape

Locations for both the mine and access buildings have been selected to ensure that their visual impact is kept to a minimum. Although all of our sites already benefit from existing screening, to enhance this further we will:

  • Provide new landscaping to blend into the surrounding area
  • Use the material extracted from the mine as we build it to provide landscaped features to further screen the mine and access buildings
  • Implement measures for the long-term management of the woodlands at the mine site

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