New potash mine may open in 2017

The sunken mine head would minimise the impact of any surface buildings
The sunken mine head would minimise the impact of any surface buildings

A NEW potash mine on the Yorkshire coast could be just five years away and would create over 1,000 new jobs for local residents according to a new study published by the company behind the proposals.

A detailed scoping study has estimated that the mine would cost around £1.7billion to construct and Chris Fraser, managing director and CEO of York Potash parent company Sirius Minerals, said: “The completion of the study marks a significant milestone on our journey to develop a modern mine that will create over a thousand direct jobs and make a significant contribution to the regional and national economies.

“The study confirms the technical viability of the project and demonstrates how an innovative mine shaft design could maximise the benefits of the proposal and help to deliver construction quickly, efficiently and with the least impact possible.”

The company hopes that production could be expanded to 5m annual tonnes of potash sulphate per year, which would make it one of the world’s biggest potash mines.

York Potash says that it is already working with local authorities to try and encourage the kind of skills and education that the future workforce will require and Jim Dillon, chief executive of Scarborough Borough Council, said: “We’re probably more excited about this than the potash people.

“We are talking with the local universities to make sure the curriculum is adjusted.

“We want less hairdressers, more engineers.”

As part of the study work York Potash has devised two possible design concepts for its mine shafts which they say will reduce the environmental and visual impact of the mine, while delivering quicker construction times.

The design concepts reveal how the mine shaft head frames could either be located 600 metres underground and accessed from the surface via two access tunnels or sunken at ground level to minimise the size of any surface buildings.

The initial shaft designs are part of the detailed planning work that York Potash is currently undertaking and operations director Graham Clarke said: “These shaft concepts are a great step forward in helping us to create an acceptable proposal that best delivers all of the benefits that a new mine can bring.

“But there is still a lot of work to do and we will conduct extensive public consultation as soon as we have more detail for people to comment on.”

York Potash anticipates that it can construct the mine within a three-year timeframe, which could enable production to start in 2017 if planning permission is granted early next year.

Drilling results from a third temporary drilling site at Raikes Lane, south of Sneatonthorpe, have also been announced this week and Mr Fraser added: “These assay results of the third new hole of the York Potash drilling programme have delivered yet another thick intersection of high grade polyhalite in the shelf seam.

“These assays continue the strong results obtained from the drilling programme, and combined with the results of the detailed scoping study confirm the world-class nature of the York Potash Project.