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Going underground with British Gypsum

Date: 30 November 2017

We love giving people an insight into how we produce our plaster products, even if it means taking them underground!

We recently took eight plasterers on a guided tour around Kirkby Thore mine, plant and training academy to give them an insight into our daily processes. From seeing how the gypsum is mined to getting hands on with our performance plasters, it was an activity packed day!

We love giving people insight into our daily processes, even if that means taking them underground. That’s why we recently held a Facebook competition to win a free-guided tour around our Kirkby Thore plant and mine. The eight lucky winners were all plasterers with a range of experience;  some members of our Certified Plasterer Scheme, others who are new to the trade and completing their plastering qualifications.

Plasterers at British Gypsum Kirkby Thore mine

Plasterers ready for a tour of the mine at British Gypsum, Kirkby Thore

Down in the mine

The tour began at 9am, with Plaster Demonstrator, Gary Blackburn ready to lead the visitors through a day of exploration. The first stop on the tour was the mine, which meant going underground. Working in the mine can be dangerous and safety is our paramount concern. Mine Shift Manager, Peter ran everyone through the requisite rules and regulations they had to follow.

The plasterers were kitted up in the correct safety gear, which included: safety boots, hi-vis jackets, helmet & head torch and harness with emergency breathing apparatus. At this point all the necessary safety precautions had been taken and it was time to begin the tour.

Plasterers mine tour at British Gypsum

The mine remained working in full swing so the visitors were able to see exactly how we extract and manufacture our gypsum products. Peter was on hand to explain each step of the process, talking the team through how gypsum is drilled, before explaining why it needs to be sorted on conveyors and transported out of the mines to the homogeniser.

Flying visit of the plant

When finished in the mine the team headed back above ground and got stuck into the lunch provided. It was vital the group properly re-energised, as their day wasn’t finished yet; they still had the plant tour to complete!

Gary led the team through the plaster bagging area of the plant, where the gypsum, which had been processed into plaster, was being packed into plaster bags. The bags were sealed and transported on conveyor belts to the high-bay warehouse ready to be picked and dispatched out to merchants.

British Gypsum Plaster Plant

Following this the group moved on to the plasterboard line where they could quickly get a feel of the plasterboard process.

The Training Academy

Before finishing there was just enough time to visit our onsite academy, where we deliver our industry-leading training programmes. The team got the chance to get hands on with our Thistle performance plasters and had the opportunity to ask the training instructors industry related questions. 

Before leaving each person was given a free product to trial. The group had the choice between bags of ThistlePro DuraFinish, Thistle Bonding 60 or a sample of ThistlePro Magnetic set onto plasterboard to show homeowners.

Asked what he thought of the event, attendee Graeme Shelton commented: “It was a well managed event with friendly, approachable staff who excelled in making us all feel welcome and safe, as well as making the day as enjoyable and informative as possible. I was impressed with the state of the art facilities, which were much bigger than I had imagined. I left with a smile on my face, a pocket full of raw gypsum and some new products to trial!”

While a tour of the British Gypsum mine was only possible for the lucky few, we have created a video of the mining process ‘From Rock to Room’, which you can watch here.

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