FTSE 100 mining group Anglo American, which is constructing the Woodsmith polyhalite mine near Whitby, has seen shares surge higher after receiving a £31.1 billion takeover approach.

The Woodsmith project is currently building two deep mine shafts over a mile deep and a 37km-long tunnel to a fertiliser processing area at Wilton on Teesside. The project already employs more than 1,650 people at its sites in Whitby, Teesside and Scarborough.

UK-headquartered Anglo American’s shares shot up by as much as 14 per cent in morning trading on Thursday after revealing overnight that Australia’s BHP – the world’s biggest miner – had put forward the “unsolicited” and “highly conditional” takeover proposal.

Anglo said its board was reviewing the approach with its advisers.

Under the potential deal, BHP said it would offer £25.08 a share, including £4.86 a share in Anglo Platinum stock and £3.40 in Kumba Iron Ore company shares.

The takeover would create the world’s biggest copper miner, with around 10 per cent of global output.

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It would boost BHP’s presence in the burgeoning copper market, which is seeing demand soar amid the shift towards clean energy, as well as giving it greater access to potash, and coking coal in Australia.

Copper is particularly sought after, as the metal is used in renewable energy projects and electric vehicles.

A tie-up between the pair would be one of the biggest deals in the sector in recent years – since the Glencore buyout of Xstrata in 2013.

Anglo said that under the deal being proposed by BHP, it would have to spin off two Anglo units – its platinum arm Anglo American Platinum and Kumba Iron Ore, which are both listed in South Africa.

BHP added that following any deal, Anglo’s other “high quality operations, including its diamond business” would be subject to a strategic review.

BHP said: “The combination would bring together the strengths of BHP and Anglo American in an optimal structure.

“Anglo American would bring its assets and long-term growth potential.

“BHP would bring its higher margin cash generative assets and growth projects along with its larger free cash flows and stronger balance sheet.

“Anglo American has a deep pool of talented people who would continue to make a valuable contribution to the successful operation of Anglo American’s assets within the combined group.”