The first tunnel boring machine (TBM) has arrived at the site for the new £4.2bn Sirius Minerals polyhalite transportation tunnel in north Yorkshire.
The 6m diameter, 1,800t TBM will construct the 37km mineral transportation tunnel from the mine site near Whitby to a port at the former Redcar Steelworks in Teesside.
Up to 20M.t of the mined polyhalite fertiliser from the mine will be taken through the tunnel on a conveyor belt to the port where it will be processed and shipped.
The main parts of the 225m long machine arrived at Teesside Docks after being transported from a specialist factory in Germany over seven days. It was then moved to the site where it will now be reassembled.
Tunnel contractor Strabag is carrying out the works.
The TBM will bore the first of three separate tunnel drives. Two other machines are to be launched in 2020 from Whitby and Lockwood Beck, near Guisborough, to complete the final 24km of the tunnel.
Each TBM will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, lining the tunnel with concrete segments as they go.
Sirius Minerals external affairs director Gareth Edmunds said: “The arrival of our first tunnel boring machine represents an exciting milestone for the company and the region. We continue to make good progress delivering our world class project, as we invest in the local area and create jobs and supply chain opportunities.”
Sirius expects to reach the polyhalite seam in 2021 and to be producing 10M.t of polyhalite fertiliser per annum by 2024.
Sirius mine section