Innovation and product development have continued at the ICL Boulby mine in east Cleveland as it continues to reshape in order to meet future needs of agriculture worldwide.
Recently Andrew Fulton, Vice President and General Manager at ICL Boulby said: “This year we will be continuing to increase our production levels and making substantial investments in plant and equipment to help meet the growing demand for our products.”
A recent process improvement project has involved a collaborative project involving the mine; Francis Brown Limited (FBL), the Stockton-based global provider of fabrication and engineering services; and Dutch heavy lifting specialists Mammoet. The overall project has facilitate an increase in polyhalite production – the unique organic mineral which is mined only at Boulby and nowhere else in the world
The improvement project relates to the development of PotashPluS TM a new granular fertilizer formulated using a combination of potash and fine particles of polyhalite. In order to ensure that the quality of the finished product is maintained it is necessary to apply a coating of a ‘wax’ type liquid within the new process.
Francis Brown were contracted to supply two heat-insulated tanks to store the ‘wax’ compound. Including the legs these stand 7.3 metres tall and hold 42m3 of liquid at a controlled temperature of 90C.
Among the Francis Brown project workforce were two young apprentices – Sam Shea who won the award for best City and Guilds Welding Student of 2018 in the Teesside area, and colleague Kieron Hutchinson.
The tanks were transported to the site by Mammoet.
In charge of the entire project was James Hall of ICL Boulby: “It was an excellent example of how different areas of industry can combine skills and expertise to benefit everybody,” he said. “The design and workmanship was exemplary and once the tanks were on site we had the whole system up and running within a week – an excellent performance.”
Mark Roddy, Managing Director of FBL stated: “To safely manufacture these tanks where our skilled tradesman mentor and work alongside our apprentices is a particularly rewarding element of the project and an excellent example of the investment Francis Brown Ltd continue to make in supporting their customers’ requirements. We consider these apprentices the third generation of FBL employees to have supported mining and production at Boulby.”