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Chamber members hear about ICL Boulby's story


Speaking at our Tees Valley AGM, the company gave us an insight into their inspirational journey

In the middle of constantly grim news for business with Brexit there was an absolutely wonderful inspirational story told at our Chamber Tees Valley Annual Review.

Over 150 of our members heard Andrew Fulton, VP and general manager of ICL Boulby give a frank and candid report on what was needed to completely transition one traditional mining business into another one, full of innovation and opportunities.

As the potash reserves are becoming exhausted the business is mining Polyhalite, marketed by ICL as Polysulphate, a vital ingredient in high quality multi-nutrient fertilisers.

I spent a good portion of my early years living on a farm and know at first-hand how important it is for farmers to get great crop results for their hard efforts. This new ICL product has been trialled around the world and is producing significantly higher yields for farmers. It also has a much lower ‘carbon footprint’ than many other fertilisers.

Products using Boulby Polyhalite are now sold across five continents which is no mean feat.

Andrew Fulton also told our guests about the substantial investment and technical expertise needed to change the whole mining business’s production processes, but work that the business was determined to do, to safeguard the local workforce’s future as far as it could.

He explained the investment and reinvention came out of a firm belief that you support your team even when the going gets tough for a company as ‘that’s what being a mining engineer stands for’.

The mining success is also only half the story. In addition to the Polysulphate production, the site also has ground-breaking facilities including the United Kingdom’s only underground science laboratory where studies can be carried out almost entirely free of interference from natural background radiation. Among the projects it has supported is the prestigious testing of Nasa’s Mars rover.

At this time of the year, other work delivered by Boulby becomes ever more important as ICL and ICL Boulby produce and supply salt. Indeed, they are responsible for providing half of the total amount needed to grit the whole of the UK.

As part of our annual review I’m also delighted to report that Simon Wake, Endeavour Partnership LLP was elected Chair of our Tees Valley area committee and Patrick Masheder, Real Results Marketing and Jo Hand, the Human Group North were elected vice-chairs. Their experience will be invaluable to our work.