Potash mine plan ‘moving forward’

PLANS to build a new potash mine in the Whitby area creating up to 5,000 jobs are moving forward, according to the company behind the scheme.

Last month mineral rights between Whitby and Scarborough were sold by York Potash to Sirius Minerals in a move which is expected to create the UK’s first potash mine in 40 years.

Following the takeover Sirius Minerals, which specialises in potash exploration and development, says it is now planning where it will drill first in preparation for exploration work which will eventually determine where the mine will be situated.

In a stock market update, Sirius said the York Potash Project is “moving forward on many” fronts including the gathering together of historic data that will allow the firm to improve its models of the ground conditions in the area.

Chris Fraser, chief executive of Sirius Minerals who originally founded York Potash, said: “Our work on the York Potash project continues at pace.

“Technical work is progressing well and we have also had a range of constructive discussions with local stakeholders and these will continue throughout the lifetime of the project. There is a lot of work to do but our focus remains on delivering the best possible project for the area which will secure long-term supplies of this essential mineral for the UK and deliver significant jobs and investment throughout the region.”

The project is still in its early stages but if it goes ahead Sirius estimates agricultural potash, which is a powdery salt used in fertilizers, could be extracted from the new mine for the next 50 years.

Sirius has three other potash projects in Australia and the USA, and says the York mine could create 1,500 development and construction jobs and 1,000 operational jobs in the mine, as well as supporting hundreds more in the supply chain.

The UK is currently only served by the Boulby Mine, which is also in North Yorkshire and is operated by Cleveland Potash Limited.

Sirius say subject to successful completion of the exploratory and surveying work, it is anticipated that details will be developed for a suitable extraction point and mine head with accompanying infrastructure.

Planning permission will then be sought with a view to making the York Potash project operational “as soon as is practically possible”.

The project’s proposed exploration area extends between Scarborough and Whitby across the 600sq km land allocation.

No timetable has been set for submission of a planning application to develop the mine nor for the intended start of mining operations.