Client Story

Anglo American

Leveraging a major new asset to improve lives in North Yorkshire and Teesside

Global mining company Anglo American’s purpose is to re-imagine mining to improve people’s lives. Its Woodsmith Project – the construction of a new fertiliser mine and associated infrastructure in North Yorkshire and Teesside – is the largest private-sector capital investment programme in the North of England. The company’s investment will be transformative for the region – creating thousands of new jobs, supporting local businesses and boosting growth more widely.

Anglo American is experienced in working with partners in developing countries to invest in economic growth in the regions where its assets are sited. But with the Woodsmith Project in a developed economy, the company wanted expert insight to ensure maximum positive benefit from its investment.

Bringing deep expertise in economic development, technology and innovation, and supply chain, we worked with Anglo American and regional stakeholders to identify wide-ranging opportunities for Anglo American to boost new and existing growth initiatives. These extended beyond the Woodsmith Project and its immediate supply chain out into the region’s wider economy. Working closely with the company, we established priorities for investment and developed a roadmap to guide implementation.

Key successes

  • Identified opportunities to boost regional growth and create a sustainable platform for a major new asset
  • Applied a mix of expertise in economic development, technology and innovation, and supply chain to identify high value opportunities
  • Drew on our unrivalled experience in economic development to navigate the stakeholder landscape with sensitivity and political awareness
  • Defined a roadmap to focus investment over decades and with the potential to create thousands of high value jobs in the supply chain and beyond

Realising the potential for economic transformation

Long-term investment projects, such as mines, renewable energy facilities and knowledge centres, have huge potential to significantly enhance the economies of the regions where they’re located, and the economic impact of the Woodsmith Project will be significant for communities on the North Yorkshire coast and Teesside.

The multibillion-pound project is set to become an important source of low-carbon fertiliser and will make a significant contribution to achieving more sustainable farming practices around the world. With the mine set to be operational for decades, this is an opportunity to drive sustainable economic and social development in a region historically reliant on low skilled seasonal tourism jobs and a declining heavy industry sector.

Uncovering every opportunity

With major operations around the world, Anglo American has wide experience of realising similar developmental opportunities. In emerging economies, for example, the company uses its innovative Collaborative Regional Development (CRD) approach to guide its development activities. Using CRD, Anglo American often establishes new partnerships to improve local livelihoods, health and education.

Now, for the first time, Anglo American was applying this approach in a developed economy – at the company’s Woodsmith Project. Uncovering the full range of opportunities and identifying where best to target investments in a wide range of existing initiatives brought a new degree of complexity to the company’s ambitions in a region without any knowledge or recognition of Anglo American and its brand or purpose.

These factors meant Anglo American’s engagement with local stakeholders needed sensitive and experienced handling. Recognising this, the company approached us for expert support.

Applying a unique mix of expertise

Our economic development credentials are founded on our work with central and local government, and regional development agencies. On international initiatives, we count the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office among our clients. This means we have expert knowledge of the levers that enable and drive economic growth. We also know what it takes to implement development programmes successfully.

We brought further expertise to the challenge: our capabilities in technology and innovation, which give us deep understanding of the new industries that will drive future economic growth, and our supply chain capabilities, enabling us to contribute expert insights into opportunities within the supply chain.

Drawing on this mix of expertise, we worked closely with Anglo American to build an ambitious programme for collaborating with local stakeholders to support and boost regional development. The goal was to help develop a vibrant regional economy as a platform for the long-term success of the Woodsmith Project.

Mapping the landscape

To begin, we set about building a detailed understanding of the local economy. We engaged with over 30 different stakeholders, including local authorities and councils, voluntary, charitable and social enterprise organisations, education providers, tourism bodies, and the private sector, all of whom are working to support local communities and grow the regional economy. And we used our proprietary framework to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the regional economy and form a clear, evidence-based assessment of its growth potential.

During this phase, we paid particular attention to the supply chain. Anglo American’s ambition is to retain the most value-adding activity within the region and the company had already established a scheme to engage local businesses. By mapping supply chains and assessing the value-add at each link, we identified additional areas where there was scope for partnerships to support economic development. The emerging regional strengths in cyber security, net zero technologies and crop science and processing all presented strong opportunities for collaboration.

For other asset owners, our work with Anglo American yields important learning. Building and operating a new asset is not the only way to add value in the local economy. Identifying other potential growth sectors and collaborating with local partners to develop these is also a powerful way to drive wider economic development.”
PA government and public sector expert

We also focused on the long-term workforce needs of the Woodsmith Project. We engaged with regional education providers through a series of workshops and calls to understand their approach to skills provision and proposed ways in which Anglo American could work with local further and higher education providers.

Throughout, we navigated the stakeholder landscape with sensitivity. Our engagement focused on identifying opportunities for Anglo American to augment and enhance existing development strategies and activities being driven by local economic development organisations, rather than to lead them.

Shaping the plan

Drawing on this wide-ranging engagement, we generated almost 140 innovative proposals with the potential to be the building blocks of the growth development programme for the Woodsmith Project. These included everything from building on existing funding targeting the regeneration of coastal towns, to spreading the income generated by tourism more widely across the region.

Asset owners often expect to develop growth initiatives from scratch. In fact, there is often a wide range of initiatives already underway. Often, the most productive approach is to target interventions to supplement and augment those programmes.”
PA economic development expert

Through a series of workshops with Anglo American, we pared down our ideas into a more focused shortlist. Everything that made the cut promised to deliver benefits both for existing regional development strategies and for the Woodsmith Project. We then shaped the selected components into a collaborative regional development programme, identifying priorities and key milestones to guide implementation.

Seeding transformational change

The programme encompasses the full range of opportunities to support economic development. In the short term, the programme will enable Anglo American to build constructively on the circa £580 million the company has spent on the project since it was purchased in Spring 2020.

Looking further into the future, Anglo American’s investment has the potential to be truly transformational. For example, the creation of new quality jobs will give young people the option to develop their careers in the region where they have been born rather than having to move away for lack of opportunity. Anglo American’s support for wider economic development beyond Woodsmith’s immediate supply chain will help bring new enterprise and investment into the region, making it an even better place to live and work.

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