PROPOSALS are being developed for a major investment in the continued operation of Dorset’s traditional ball clay industry.

Imerys Minerals is to seek approval to extend its Doreys Pit site, near Wareham, which has been in operation for more than 40 years.

Developers say that the extension project would secure “future production, the jobs of dozens of employees and the significant indirect employment and economic activity generated by mining operations in Dorset”.

Ball clay is used to produce wall and floor tiles, sanitaryware, tableware and electrical and refractory products.

With the approval of Dorset Council, Imerys has already carried out mineral exploration surveys and drilled boreholes to confirm the presence of clay in the proposed extension area at Bridewells.

It is anticipated a planning application would be brought forward in autumn 2022.

Gary Staddon, real estate and business development manager for Imerys, said: “Dorset Ball Clays are a premium product, in demand the world over for their quality and properties, and our operations here contribute significantly to the local economy and the UK’s Balance of Trade.

“As a responsible operator with a long history in the area, Imerys is fully aware of the environmental constraints in which it operates within Dorset and works closely with the appropriate authorities and stakeholders to minimise operational impacts and to enhance the local environment wherever possible.

“Our proposals, when they come forward, will seek to mitigate the impact of the operations during the time the pit is active and will include a full restoration concept focused on nature conservation, and with features likely to include hedges, deciduous woodland, grassland and heathland together with an aquatic environment.”