Home Front cover Photoessays LIFE FORCE
The magazine of the art-form of the photo-essay “A free, really high quality photo-essay magazine.  Fabulous!” Stephen Fry. British actor, writer and film & documentary maker
Feb 2016 back issue
by Damian Bird
Boulby Mine, on the North Yorkshire coast, is Britain’s deepest mine.  It is 1,250 metres deep and has a 620 mile network of underground tunnels and roads extending out under the North Sea. Since 1973, the mine has produced half of the UK’s supply of potash, used in fertiliser, glass making and in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.  The Potash mining districts extend both under the North Sea and out towards the North Yorkshire Moors where miners extract ore in the pitch darkness with just small cap lamps and vehicle headlights to see by.   The air is thick with dust which is safely absorbed by the body. Miners carry bowsers filled with iced water to prevent dehydration.
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Going to work, down the mine shaft (descending 1.1km).
The miners enter the mine and head off into the darkness to cut potash.
View from the Pink Panther (nickname for the buggy) as we travel the 40 minute journey through the tunnels to the face.
Miners discussing the day’s work, in the pitch darkness.
Rear view of a potash mining machine as it tunnels and cuts postash from the face.
Miners approaching mining machine, carefully making sure not to fall as many of the surfaces are very uneven.
Tthe mining machines are operated by remote control.
Raw potash being dumped from the mining machine into the shuttle car which then carries it to the surface.
The driver of the shuttle car unloading ore into the feeder breaker to be taken to the surface.
The shuttle car returning to the face.
Miners returning from the face to the meeting place which is a 40 minute drive from the pit bottom and over 9k under the North Sea.
An Overseer examining the face .
Steel bolts are drilled and fastened with resin into the roof and side walls in order to prevent them from falling in.
The air is thick with dust.
A group of miners at the meeting station taking a well-earned break and the opportunity to re- hydrate.
Throughout Boulby mine, safe havens have been created at regular intervals.  They are air tight rooms with their own water and air supply. They are present in case of fire or gas leak.
A team of specialist miners constantly check & make safe the hundreds of kms of roadways throughout the mine and install secondary support systems such as additional roof & side bolts and wooden jenga like towers to hold the roof up.
Tired from their shift, miners waiting for the lift to surface to arrive.
Miners at the surface, leaving the lift.  Every miner deposits their tally as they exit the mine.
Exterior of Boulby Potash Mine.
In a dusty silo, a potash mountain is moved by digger.
Britain’s Deepest Mine Boulby Potash, Yorkshire
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