PLANS to build a giant mine in the area to unearth billions of pounds worth of potash could be submitted in as little as 18 months.
The news was revealed by the chief executive of Sirius Minerals as gave a talk to business leaders about the project.
Chris Fraser was invited to speak at the Ambassadors Dinner, at Scarborough’s Beiderbecke’s Hotel, and update guests on the proposals to build a potash mine on the Yorkshire Coast, creating 5,000 jobs.
The plans were unveiled last month when mineral rights between Whitby and Scarborough were sold by York Potash to Sirius Minerals in a move aimed at creating the UK’s first potash mine in 40 years.
Mr Fraser, who founded York Potash and is now chief executive of Sirius Minerals, said the project is in its early stages but if it goes ahead it could bring a huge economic boost to to the borough.
He said: “If we are successful we think this project can be transformational for the region.
“There has been an extensive amount of information that gives us great confidence to think that we can build a great project here.
“There is a lot of work to be done, a lot of exploration, and environmental and technical work.
“Because we are still buying mining rights a lot of people in this region will have more money to spend. Also, properties will rise in value because as the project progresses more people will be coming here to live as they fill the jobs.”
Sirius Minerals is currently planning test drilling and seismic surveys to get a better understanding of the land, and eventually lead to a location for the mine on the 600sq km between Whitby and Scarborough for which they currently have the mining rights.
Mr Fraser said: “There are only a few places in the world where potash exists, and we believe we are standing on it right now. “There is a basin which runs under the ocean here right across to Germany.
“What has not been recognised in this basin is the massive amount of potassium sulphate. That sells at around $600 US a tonne, and we believe there is the potential of being six billion tonnes down there.
“Everyone asks me where we will put the mine and how we will get the product out but at the moment we cannot answer that, it is very early stages.
“The geology throughout the area is pretty consistent, so I don’t think it’s going to be a case of we can’t have the mine there because there is no potash, which means we can focus more on putting the mine where it will be most beneficial to the locals.
“In terms of getting the product out there is no way you can use the road. It would need to be by bolt pipe or by rail, and that is all still to be explored.”
Concerns were raised about the visual impact of the mine, to which Mr Fraser said they are doing everything in their power to use environmental technology and visual screening.
He said: “It won’t look like what Boulby Mine looks like. Technology and engineering has advanced since that was built. We can put things under the ground now that they wouldn’t have even dreamed of back then.”
Mr Fraser said that once surveys and investigations have been carried out and they have chosen a site for the mine they will submit a planning application, which would be in as little as 18 months.
He said: “The project will take a while. The time frame for getting a planning application at best is 18 months. We could then start construction in two years and it will take three years to build. That is really is absolute best case scenario though.”