Former Boulby boss on new set up

Graham Clarke at the proposed site of the Potash mine near Sneatonthorpe''w123606n
Graham Clarke at the proposed site of the Potash mine near Sneatonthorpe''w123606n

invariably, plans for a modern day mine will draw comparisons to Boulby Mine near Staithes which was constructed in the late 1960s. Reporter Emma Spencer speaks to a man who will know more about both of them than anyone.

GRAHAM Clarke has almost 30 years of experience in the mining industry and he is about to embark on what he calls a “once in several lifetimes” opportunity.

Alongside the some 700-odd people that are set to be employed should the mine be given planning approval, he will be leading the way in what is set to be a masterclass in mining design.

But he should know because he has spent 26 years at Boulby – the last seven of which were as mining director.

His role with York Potash ranges from deciding on the best access point from above ground to the mine workings to day to day logistics of shift patterns and procedures.

His arrival at York Potash sparked concerns there would be a mass exodus from the Boulby site across the moor but he insists the workforce is there to maintain both businesses.

He said: “It is not our intention to draw the workforce from Boulby. Something I have learned from my time is that this part of the world has a long-standing tradition for skilled people working in heavy industry or off-shore.

“Boulby has always been able to find the workforce locally and we have a long list of people looking to join us and we are working with colleges, schools and training providers.”

State-of-the-art technology and enough mineral reserves to sustain operations for 140 years mean there are opportunities to keep people in the area and he himself chose to raise his family in Sandsend.

He used the example of Whitby-born Tristan Pottas who joined the York Potash team as a project geologist but had to work in Australia and Peru.

Graham added: “We can provide something that local people can inspire to.

“People do want to stay and what we will give is the opportunity for a lot more to stay and build their future here.”

It had to be something pretty special that drew Graham away from Boulby and while finances will have played a part he said he had been presented with a “once in several lifetimes opportunity” to be involved with a project “right from the start”.

He added: “It is an opportunity to use what I have learnt. None of the mistakes that might have been made in the early years at Boulby will be made here. We can do things right from the beginning.”