Green light for drilling plans

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PLANNING applications for two temporary drilling sites have been approved by the North York Moors National Park Authority (NYMNPA), bringing the proposed potash mine one step closer.

The temporary drilling is required to extract sample cores of the mineral underground and confirm further details about the potash in the area before any detailed proposals for the wider project can be developed.

Sirius Mineral’s York Potash project is intended to extract agricultural potash, powdery salt used in fertilisers, from a 600km squared deposit located under the coast between Whitby and Scarborough.

Any mining could continue for around 50 years and could inject billions of pounds into the local economy.

Chris Fraser, managing director and CEO of Sirius, said: “We are extremely pleased to be moving forward and will keep local people informed during the drilling work.

“The project is of national importance and if delivered in the right way could be a real benefit to the local area.

“We will work as quickly as we can to complete this phase and draw up detailed proposals for the project.”

The initial two drilling sites are located infields to the south of Ugglebarnby and Hawsker.

Site drilling is expected to last for five weeks with each hole in the ground being no larger than a dustbin lid.

The sites will both be restored to their original condition after the drilling is complete.

This next stage of the project is intended to fill in the gaps in the current geological map so the company knows exactly where the mineral can be found.

It is expected to run until around Christmas and when completed the company will decide whether they would like to start drilling on a large scale.

In January, Sirius announced its proposals for the mine which it is estimated will create up to 5,000 jobs both directly and indirectly, with 1,500 jobs created during the development and construction phase and then 1,000 people operating the mine.

Specialist drilling contractors and special ecological and environmental teams will be locally sourced, with the main drilling contracted out to one of four companies, two of which are UK-based.