‘Business as usual’ at potash mine

Cleveland Potash managing director Phil Baines
Cleveland Potash managing director Phil Baines

THE managing director of Cleveland Potash has said that it is ‘business as usual’ after announcing that the company will be conducting further research into the development of Boulby Mine.

As a result of the additional research into the proposed development of a manufacturing plant at the site, Cleveland Potash will lose a £13million grant it had been awarded from the Regional Growth Fund.

Cleveland Potash's managing director Phil Baines

Cleveland Potash's managing director Phil Baines

However, Phil Baines said that the decision to waive the grant will not affect the mine’s ongoing operations, which continues to extract potash, rock salt and polyhalite.

He added: “As far as Boulby Mine and our workforce are concerned it is business as usual. We are the only company in the world to successfully mine polyhalite and we are intending to invest millions of pounds in additional mining equipment in response to increasing demand from customers in the UK and worldwide for our Polysulphate fertilizer.”

CPL began mining polyhalite in 2010, becoming the first company in the world to mine, process and sell the mineral. The company currently markets the processed polyhalite under the brand name ‘Polysulphate’ worldwide through the network of its parent company, ICL Fertilizers.

Polysulphate provides farmers with a potassium, magnesium and sulphur-rich fertilizer, which has been accepted by the Soil Association in the UK as an organic fertiliser.

Polyhalite is found in a rich mineral seam lying a kilometre deep off the north-east coast of England, beneath potash and rock salt seams that CPL has mined for over 40 years. The company considers the polyhalite seam located within its mining lease area to be a “strategic asset of the company” and so intends to continue developing the mine to fully exploit its commercial potential.

“In a project of this scale and complexity, it is vital that we and our parent company, ICL, are certain that the downstream processing of the polyhalite is both technically and financially viable,” said Mr Baines. “As a result, we have decided to conduct further detailed research into the design of the proposed processing plant.”

In the face of the proposed York Potash project, CPL have sought to reassure residents that Boulby Mine still has a productive future ahead and Mr Baines added: “Our offshore seismic survey and core samples of polyhalite from underground exploration drilling indicate that there are over a billion tonnes of high-grade polyhalite located in CPL’s mining area at Boulby, in a thick seam at a relatively low depth that is readily accessible from our existing mine workings. We look forward to developing this substantial asset in addition to maintaining our position as the UK’s largest mine and sole producer of potash.”