Woodsmith Mine

Woodsmith Mine

Careys are responsible for carrying out and managing the excavation and construction of several of the crucial components of the Woodsmith Mine project - the Material Transfer System (MTS), production and service shaft foreshafts. Our teams are deploying a variety of excavation techniques and equipment – some of which we have modified to suit the specific requirements of the topography, timeline and conditions – to build the various shafts at Woodsmith Mine.





Principal Contractor


Due to be completed in late 2021, this approximately £4bn venture – which is located in a pristine national park set more than 200m above the north-eastern coast of England – will be the largest mining operation in the UK.

Employing specialised equipment for the first time in the UK

We have also been acting as principal contractor on the initial construction phases of the mine’s all-important production and service shafts. In this capacity we have been responsible for excavating the pre-sink shafts to a depth of 120m. Once we have successfully created the foreshafts, a specialist company will continue the excavations down to 1,530m.

Construction of the 120m-deep shaft involves carrying out excavation of the vertical tunnel and creating reinforced concrete works. In order to ensure that we would ultimately deliver this key element of the project as efficiently, expediently and safely as possible, we performed our customary extensive research and preparation procedures in order to identify the most effective construction methodologies.

As a result of this thorough process, we decided to deploy a vertical shaft sinking machine (VSM), for the first time ever in the UK. Thanks to the building information modelling (BIM) techniques provided by our in-house design team, our deployment of this state-of-the-art equipment has been hugely successful.

In addition to employing the VSM, we have also innovated and implemented a brand-new slip form technique to construct the Material Transfer Shaft (MTS). By continuously pouring its concrete walls, simultaneously with the VSM’s excavation activity, we have been able to create the MTS shaft more safely, rapidly and cost-effectively.

Efficiently and rapidly completing the initial phases of the mine’s vital service and production shafts

In order to ensure that all aspects of this part of the project would function smoothly and efficiently, we deployed our characteristically meticulous planning process and innovative approach. We received invaluable support in these efforts from in-house design team, which provided digital and construction engineering expertise and state-of-the-art building information modelling (BIM) techniques.

As a result of our thorough research and planning, we have been able to implement various procedures that have enabled us to begin to quickly, efficiently and safely carry out the excavation of these foreshafts. In fact, we created the first 52.7m of the service foreshaft – which is equal to a 12-storey building – in only 15 weeks.

40m teledipper - largest of its kind ever used in the UK - adds pace to excavation works

In keeping with our dedication to health and safety, we are not sacrificing security for speed. For example, we have de-risked the excavation programme by using telescopic excavators, rather than the more customary crane and skips. This approach has already proven highly effective in our creation of the service foreshaft.

Additionally, in order to further improve our efficiency on this phase of the project, we are utilising a 40m teledipper – the largest of its kind ever used in the UK to date – to aid in the excavations. This piece of equipment helps to assure that our programme will not be negatively impacted by adverse weather. The pace and quality of our works on these foreshafts reflect our ongoing commitment to complete projects cost-effectively, on-time and to the highest of standards.

Careys expertise and innovation helps create the UK’s first large-scale mining operation in decades

Woodsmith Mine represents the first significant mining venture in the UK since the 1980s. Due to factors, such as the extreme depth of the mineral deposit and the mine’s location in a protected national park location, this project presented a number of unique challenges.

To ensure that each phase of the works goes according to plan as much as possible, we have taken advantage of the construction engineering expertise and state-of-the-art BIM techniques supplied by our in-house design team. Additionally, we have used 3D and 4D modelling to help trial key elements of our operations at Woodsmith Mine – including, not only mine shaft excavation and construction, but also health and safety, productivity and sustainability. This approach has enabled us to forecast potential contingencies, helping us to mitigate risk and create a realistic and effective construction plan and programme.

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