Product from Anglo American’s new multi-billion polyhalite fertiliser mine – which it is constructing in North Yorkshire – will be available to farmers in Ireland, the firm has exclusively confirmed to That’s Farming editor, Catherina Cunnane.
The global mining company intends to produce 13 million tonnes a year of its natural, multi-nutrient, low-carbon polyhalite fertiliser, POLY4.
The first product is expected in 2027, with expansion to follow as the market for polyhalite develops, the spokesperson outlined.
When complete, Woodsmith will become one of the world’s “most significant” fertiliser mines and is expected to be producing for four decades or more.
According to a spokesperson, POLY4 is a natural mineral fertiliser that contains potassium, sulphur, magnesium, and calcium, plus numerous micronutrients.
They noted that it is suitable for organic farming due to the absence of chemical processing.
The product is made by simply crushing and granulating the polyhalite mineral, giving a carbon footprint up to 85% lower than comparative conventional chemical fertilisers, the firm claims.
The polyhalite will be extracted from a mile under the North Yorkshire coast at the firm’s Woodsmith Mine near Whitby before being transported on a 23-mile tunnel to Teesside for granulation and shipping around the globe.
In what is believed to be a world-first, most of the surface infrastructure at Woodsmith Mine is being built underground, and the site is landscaped to minimise the visual impact on the surrounding countryside.
The two mineshafts are currently around 360m and 120m deep, and the tunnel is at around 13.5 miles.
The calcium in POLY4 can also enhance soil health by helping to:
- Stabilise the soil structure;
- Increase its strength and resilience;
- Improve water infiltration and retention, drainage and aeration;
- Foster a more favourable environment for soil life.
In addition, because POLY4 is low in chloride and pH neutral, it has no detrimental effect on the soil biology, the spokesperson claimed.
This mineral is distinct in its composition, behaviour, benefit, and therefore its value, Duncan Wanblad, Chief Executive of Anglo American, outlined.
“Farmers today must produce more food for a growing global population whilst meeting increasing consumer, supply chain and governmental expectations for improved sustainability.
“POLY4 is uniquely positioned to help simultaneously address these interconnected challenges because it increases yield and nutrient use efficiency, is low carbon and improves the health of the soil compared to conventional chemical fertilisers.”
Dr Alexander Schmitt, Chief Marketing Officer for Anglo American’s Crop Nutrients business, stated that POLY4 would help farmers achieve “more balanced”, sustainable fertiliser practices at a scale “not seen” in the industry for decades.
“The product delivers better results than the same blend of nutrients available from conventional sources today, delivering sustainability benefits beyond the nutrient content and setting POLY4 apart from traditional fertilisers.”
For example, its commercial trials have demonstrated that POLY4 can improve the efficiency of nitrogen and phosphorous by 6% compared to MOP, which the spokesperson highlighted, could potentially reduce the amount of chemical fertiliser that needs to be applied.
Dr. Schmitt explained that this is down to its prolonged nutrient release profile and multi-nutrient nature, as consuming a more balanced and nutritious diet makes plants stronger, healthier and more productive
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