Boulby mine aims for 40 more years

Boulby mine. Picture by Ceri Oakes.
Boulby mine. Picture by Ceri Oakes.
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Trouble-hit Boulby potash mine has announced plans to keep the site for 40 more years - just months after announcing job losses.

Cleveland Potash is now seeking planning permission from the North York Moors Park Authority to keep the site where 650 people are still employed.

The current planning permission has been in place since 1998 and expires in 2023.

Managing director Marc Kirsten said: “Boulby has faced significant challenges in recent times, but the decision to seek permission for continuing operations for a further 40 years demonstrates our commitment to ensure that we meet the challenges – and ensure Boulby can continue to make a significant contribution to the local community and economy.”

He added: “Obviously there will be a great deal of detailed work required in the coming months in advance of submitting the application.

“We have already begun initial discussions with the Park Authority on the information they will require and we have appointed as lead consultants Amec Foster Wheeler, an industry leader in global mining solutions, with over 60 years’ experience.”

The mine has had a troubled year in 2016.

In August, then-manager, Dave Williams left his position just one week after 140 job losses had been announced.

A safety probe was also launched in June this year after a 56-year-old man named John Anderson died at the Boulby mine in an incident described as a sudden and powerful release of gas.

Plans for the new development of the site include undertaking a programme which will see acceleration of the transition from potash extraction to the production of polyhalite, marketed as Poly-sulphate.

Boulby is the only producer of this mineral, which provides a multi-nutrient fertiliser including potash, sulphur, magnesium and calcium.

Deposited 260 million years ago, it lies over 1,000m below the North Sea with estimated reserves of a billion tonnes.

The Boulby announcement follows Sirius Minerals’ statement this week that they have raised enough funds to begin construction on their potash mine project at Sneaton, near Whitby.