Digging deep

Technical sales staff and directors from Everris’s York-based distributor, Green-Tech descended nearly a mile underground and travelled seven miles out beneath the North Sea to witness the extraction of raw potash used in the Everris fertilizers it supplies to turf professionals around the globe.
The visit to the Cleveland Potash’s Boulby Mine at Saltburn-by-the-Sea, Cleveland, was organised by Everris’s technical area sales manager, Simon Hardcastle, to give four front line Green-Tech staff an insight into the investment and processes involved in potash extraction at the UK’s only potash mine. Everris and Cleveland Potash are sister companies within the ICL Group.
Each year, Cleveland Potash extracts more than two million tonnes of sylvinite ore from its mine which is processed into potash for inclusion as the K constituent of fertilizers used within agriculture, horticulture and the sports turf, amenity and landscaping industries. The mine also produces sodium chloride for use as winter road salt.
According to Green-Tech’s Operations Manager, Ian Atterbury, the logistics involved in potash mining explain why the product is such a high-value commodity.
“We descended to mine level in the same cage that is used to convey the mining materials and even the vehicles,” he said. “We then drove in a personnel carrier for around 40 minutes before reaching the cavernous working face of the mine where temperatures can reach more than 40 degrees Celsius.”
Cleveland Potash operates several continuous-mining machines beneath the North Sea, all equipped with 4m wide horizontal rotary cutters mounted on remotely-controlled, hydraulically-operated booms.
Each machine cost around £1.7 million, weighs over 100 tonnes and is powered by a 3,300 volt electricity supply. Daily production capacity per machine is 3,000 tonnes of sylvinite ore, all of which is transported to the surface for processing on site.

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