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Tue May 21 2024

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World tunnelling record broken under North York Moors

8 Dec 23 Strabag UK has completed 25.8km of the Woodsmith Mine tunnel near Whitby, breaking the record for the world’s longest single tunnel boring machine drive.

Record-breaking tunnellers
Record-breaking tunnellers

Strabag UK is working for Anglo American to construct the world’s longest conveyor tunnel for a mineral transport system (MTS) to transport polyhalite from Woodsmith Mine under the North York Moors National Park to Teesside for processing and onward shipping.

And the tunnel construction still has 11km to go.

The project was initiated by Sirius Minerals, which was acquired by Anglo American in 2020.

Polyhalite is a naturally occurring mineral that will be crushed and granulated to create an organic crop fertiliser.

Strabag has been boring under the North York Moors National Park since June 2019 using a single Herrenknecht tunnel boring machine (TBM) to build the 37km tunnel with an internal diameter of 4.9 metres. The TBM was named Stella-Rose by a local primary school pupil, with Stella meaning star in Latin and Rose after a local landmark, Roseberry Topping. 

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The former record was set by a water conveyance tunnel project in the Middle East, which was also built using a Herrenknecht tunnel boring machine. Once they have completed all 37km, Anglo American and Strabag will seek recognition from Guinness World Records for the world's longest single tunnel drive.

Strabag directly employs 450 staff on the project, 75% of whom are from Teesside.

Strabag UK managing director Simon Wild said: “We are extremely proud of the team at the Woodsmith project for reaching this incredible milestone and safely passing the current world record set for a single bored tunnel drive. This is another example of our growing presence in the northeast of England and the UK, demonstrating our industry leading expertise.”

Woodsmith project director Andrew Johnson added: “We are delighted to achieve such an incredible milestone in the UK as part of our pioneering project. It is a demonstration of the fruits of teamwork with our partners. We are now focused on looking forward and setting a new world record every day. The Woodsmith tunnel is a fundamental part of our commitment to create a sustainable mine with minimal environmental impact.”

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