Results encouraging for potash firm

THE firm behind plans to build a potash mine at Sneaton near Whitby said this week it was “encouraged” by its latest set of results from a drilling project in the North York Moors.

A core was taken and tested as part of the company’s exploratory drilling scheme, which has seen temporary rigs erected and removed across the national park over the last two years.

Chris Fraser, of Sirius Minerals, said: “This additional deflection has given us further information to improve our confidence in the geological model and early mine planning and these preliminary results provide further confirmation of the volume and quality of the polyhalite.

The firm is heading to the Far East to seek funding should the billion pound project get the go-ahead.

Sirius Minerals, the parent company of York Potash, is in talks with Chinese, North American and European investors to raise as much as £300 million for the project.

Speaking from the southern Chinese province of Hainan, where he is attending the Boao Forum for Asia, Sirius chief executive officer Chris Fraser said in an interview that the sum would be raised through the sale of equity, with the prospect of raising high-yield debt.

Mr Fraser said a decision on potential investors may be made by the end of the year.

Russell Scrimshaw, the mining company’s non-executive chairman, said in an interview at the Boao Forum: “Chinese people are talking to us, as are people in other parts of the world, especially Europe and North America. So when the time comes, after we get approvals, we’ll be having some interesting conversations in this part of the world.”

The investment drive follows news a decision by planning chiefs at the North York Moors National Park authority has been put back until the summer.

Key consultees including the Ministry of Defence, the Environment Agency and Natural England, as well as the national park authority itself have all requested more detail.