New Headgear at Boulby Mine

Cleveland Potash Ltd, which owns Boulby Mine, awarded this major turnkey contract to renew the Headgear to Qualter Hall in December 2011.

The Headgear and associated equipment were constructed by Qualter Hall on site, adjacent to the existing tower during 2012, with final installation taking place during the mine holiday shutdown in August/September 2013, so as not to interrupt vital production time.

Qualter Hall used a highly specialised fast-build procedure, involving jacking and then sliding out the old structure, a 50m tall, 2700 tonne concrete headgear, on polished stainless steel slide paths initially 25m south and then a further 50m east away from the shaft, where it was then successfully demolished.

Prior to the demolition of the old structure the new 700 tonne steel Headgear, which was pre-built on slide paths about 20m from the shaft, was slid into its final position over the shaft, ready for completion and making fully operational during the remaining holiday shutdown period.  Finally, there is a new concrete tower shroud built around the new steel Headgear, for aesthetic planning reasons and also to act as an airlock building for future mine plans.

The scope of Qualter Hall’s turnkey works was extensive and involved the design, build and installation of the new 50m high Headgear structure along with four 6.2 diameter Headgear pulleys, two 23 tonne capacity skips, skip operating gear, receiving hopper, load out conveyor, gantry, shaft cover, safety systems and all associated pneumatic/electrical equipment including shaft communications and interlocks.  Qualter Hall were also responsible for the civil works and foundations, concrete outer tower, airlock arrangement and demolition of the old concrete Headgear structure.

The new design also allows for future uprating of the system, to allow the 23 tonne capacity skips to be increased to two 30 tonne capacity skips.

At the time of the project, Cleveland Potash Ltd supplies around 55% – 65% of the UK’s potash consumption from its Boulby Mine, which has been operating since 1973 and which is the UK’s only potash mine.  Employing over 1000 people, it is located in the stunning landscape of the North Yorkshire Moors on the northeast coast of England.  Workings extend down to over 1300m below ground level and as far as 12km out underneath the North Sea.

The mine can hoist up to 3 million tonnes of potash ore and more than half a million tonnes of salt each year, producing up to 1 million tonnes of potash.  Potash is used for fertiliser production as well as for glass making and applications in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.  The mine also produces salt as part of the potash mining process, which is used for a variety of needs, from road de-icing in winter to sugar beet cultivation and as an ingredient in animal feeds.

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