THE Doves Nest mine will be “unlike any other in the world”, according to the expert team who have helped design it.
Just 4.5 hectares will be developed across the 100 hectare site, accounting for 0.01% of the entire national park, with industrial processes taking place below the surface, and hidden by ‘shells’ fabricated to look like agricultural buildings.
Managing director and CEO of Sirius Minerals, Chris Fraser said: “Our mine designs demonstrate that we can minimise the impact of the mine and deliver on our longstanding commitment to the local community.”
A low level mine head and processing plant will be sunken below the surface and the larger undeveloped areas of the site will continue to be utilised as an active farm. Mr Fraser added: “We have gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal the mine. These are not normal, they’re state of the art and address all the things people have raised issues with. Our small team has been challenging ourselves and we’re confident in years to come operations around the world will come here to see how it’s done.”
In addition to the fabricated building shells, a corner of the plot will be used for sustainable site drainage ponds, which could attract wildlife.
A visitor’s centre and support building will be constructed within the mature forestry of the Haxby Plantation.
This will feature secondary support offices such as a laboratory, rescue offices and canteen.
On the southward side of the building a series of blinds will allow natural light inside, but these can be closed at night to stop artificial light escaping the site.
Administrative offices will remain at a site near Scarborough, and Mr Fraser said: “This confirms our pledge and how if we don’t need to have it in the national park, it won’t be here.”
Using a double-ended ‘tram’, employees and machinery will be transported along an access shaft which will link the management building to the mineheads, 85m below the surface.
From here, they will enter a cage which will lower them 1.5 kilometres down one of two mine shafts, to the polyhalite shelf.
Operations director Graham Clarke said that below the surface life will be warm, but well-ventilated, with wide roadways for the range of vehicles required.
Raw minerals will be mined conventionally and transported to the bottom of the shaft by conveyors or transport trucks.
Spoilage from within the mine will be brought to the surface and form a wall of earth around the site. Once this is complete further material excavated from the shafts will be used to landscape the rest of compound.
The raw minerals brought up through a mine shaft will be crushed at a sub-surface processing plant and mixed with brine, before being piped to Teesside.
The pipeline itself will feature two 600mm pipes and will travel 44 miles to the plant at Teesside, the location of which has not yet been confirmed.
Discussions have been ongoing for six months about a possible route, which will largely follow the A171 Whitby to Guisborough road.