Potash plan moving closer

THE boss of the firm behind a new potash mine within the North York Moors has given the strongest indication yet it will be built closer to Whitby than Scarborough.

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Chris Fraser, the managing director of Sirius Minerals, told the Whitby Gazette in an exclusive interview that construction of the mine is being planned to start next year and is likely to be in the “northern half” of the company’s area of interest.

While he wouldn’t be drawn on a more exact location he said it is becoming clearer from the test drilling and historical information where the best reserves of the material - used for fertiliser - lie.

A seventh test drill is currently being carried out at Mortar Hall Farm in Sneatonthorpe while others have taken place at Pasture Beck, Hawsker; Howlett Hall, Ugglebarnby; Raikes Lane, Sneatonthorpe; Jugger Howe, south of the Flask; Waite Lane, Harwood Dale and the Newton House Plantation, Sleights.

Mr Fraser said: “The drilling results have been very high quality and the mine will have to be where the best minerals are. The general picture of the deposit is that as you head south it gets deeper and lower in quality, in the areas where we have drilled it is closer to the surface and closer to where it is going to be processed in Teesside.

“The project needs to be financeable and for a successful mine we need to be able to access the deposit in a way that is viable. The information we’re getting from the drilling is proving that this should be possible.”

York Potash, the company leading the project for Sirius, will probably carry out test drilling at two more sites and is currently working in the finer details of the proposals which he said will only be revealed and put out to public consultation when they have been fully developed.

He said: “We are making sure we have got every aspect of it covered in terms of time frames, visual effects, economic benefits and environmental considerations so we have got answers that are very clear for everyone.

“Lack of information promotes opportunity for speculation and we don’t think that is helpful. As soon as we have all the information we will share it with the community very openly.”

A full planning application is set to be submitted to local authorities before the end of this year and dependant upon how fast it goes through the process, construction of the mine will start next year and is expected to take up to three years.

Mr Fraser added: “With the quality of the results so far we have moved to doing all the planning we need for construction if we get approval. We are doing some things around procurement of equipment and contractors so we are able to move forward as fast as possible.”