Anglo American and STRABAG break world record for longest single-bored tunnel

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The tunnelling team on the Woodsmith project near Whitby in North Yorkshire celebrate breaking the world record for the longest single-bored tunnel.

A single-bored tunnel in North Yorkshire in England being worked on by STRABAG UK has just become the world’s longest.

A tunnel at the Woodsmith project near Whitby in the north-east of England has recently reached 25.8km in length, breaking the current record for the world’s longest single tunnel boring machine drive.

STRABAG UK is working on behalf of Anglo American to construct the world’s longest conveyor tunnel for a permanent mineral transport system which will transport tens of millions of tonnes of polyhalite from under the North York Moors National Park.

Polyhalite is a naturally occurring mineral which will then be crushed and granulated to create POLY4, a unique multi-nutrient fertiliser which is suitable for organic use. It will be used in worldwide fertiliser programmes to help boost crop yields, plant strength and improve soil structure.

World-leading tunnelling specialists, STRABAG, have been boring under the North York Moors National Park since June 2019 using a single (Hard Rock) 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 the famous local landmark Roseberry Topping.

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 completed, Anglo American and STRABAG will have set a new world record and are expecting this to be confirmed by Guinness World Records.

STRABAG UK directly employ 450 staff on the project, 75% of which are local to Teesside and has also prioritised the use of local construction partners and suppliers, creating many more jobs for the region.

Managing director for STRABAG UK, 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 north east of England and the UK, demonstrating our industry leading expertise.”

Andrew Johnson, Woodsmith project director, 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.”