Issue 13 2017
Marking the arrival of the millionth tonne of polyhalite
Preparing for another shift mining Polysulphate at Boulby mine, UK.
Every tonne of polyhalite is special. It comes packed with nutritional potential to power crop growth in a field wherever in the world it is applied. However the mine team at Boulby, in the UK, decided to mark the production this month of the millionth tonne of polyhalite, the natural fertilizer we know as Polysulphate.

Millionth tonne landmark event
It was a landmark event in the truest sense of the term. It marked the arrival in mid-September, up from the depths of Boulby mine, to the land’s surface of the millionth tonne of polyhalite. Gathered at the surface was all the operations team, from those who work at great depths through to the sophisticated support teams that make mining possible.

Overcoming challenges to mine polyhalite
Mining polyhalite is hard. Polyhalite itself is so hard that the cutting heads of the machine that bites powerfully away at the rock seam soon become blunt. At the outset as many as 100 cutting heads had to be replaced in each shift. However the mine engineers redesigned the equipment and now only 15-20 cutting heads are needed per shift. This engineering triumph saves time and increases productivity.

Team effort pushes productivity upwards
Mining is a team effort. Mark Elliott, Polyhalite Production Manager at Boulby, the only mine in the world producing the mineral marketed under the trademark ‘Polysulphate’, praises everybody for working together. “Every man jack in every department has had a part to play in this success,” he said. “Since we started to focus on mining polyhalite in early 2016 everybody has worked to find ways of improving productivity. Output has increased to 327,000 tonnes so far this year and we are on target to hoist 450,000 by the year end.”

Mine to thine
Of course this is only the first leg of polyhalite’s journey. As with every other tonne before it, the millionth tonne of polyhalite to be brought to the surface at Boulby continued to the next stages of processing and grading before entering the supply chain for delivery to farmers’ fields.

Whether mineworker or land worker, or somewhere else in the polyhalite story, the ‘millionth tonne landmark event’ reminds us all how we help to make this polyhalite’s mark on land by mining, explaining and delivering to farmers this remarkable natural fertilizer.
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Mined in the UK, ICL is the first – and only - producer in the world to mine polyhalite, marketed as Polysulphate