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Spelsberg GRP enclosure installed down UK’s deepest mine

01 May 2020

Over a kilometre under the North Sea – eight miles from dry land – sits a Spelsberg GRP enclosure. Installed at the face of the UK's deepest mine as part of an Air Spectrum dust suppression system, this an environment so alien that NASA rovers, dark matter experiments and underground labs all call this place home. This is Boulby Mine, the frontline of Cleveland Potash Limited's polyhalite mining operations.

Boulby Mine varies in depth between 1,100 and 1,400 metres, which equates to over four stacked Eiffel Towers. A former potash mine, Boulby Mine now primarily produces polyhalite, a rare earth mineral that can be used as fertiliser. Underground laboratories also form part of the site: researching the big questions surrounding dark matter and providing a proving ground for NASA space rovers.

In 2018, 450,000 tonnes of polyhalite was extracted from Boulby Mine, with operators Cleveland Potash looking to expand operations and output over the coming year. Mining at this extreme depth under the sea presents challenges: darkness, equipment reliability, access, ventilation and (of pertinence to this application) dust.

As polyhalite is mined at the face, the auger produces large amounts of airborne dust. Failure to suppress this dust can cause it to spread down the shaft, presenting safety risks to miners and potentially harming equipment. To ensure that dust is suitably controlled at the face, Cleveland Potash approached Air Spectrum, a provider of dust control systems, to deliver a solution.

Read the full article in the May issue of DPA

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