Employees at Boulby mine have been plunged into “panic” following the news that more than 200 jobs face the axe.
A major restructure is planned in reaction to limited levels of potash, which will now see the mine’s owners target polyhalite instead.
One former worker told the Northern Echo how “there will be a lot of people panicking,” with workers facing mortgage payments and car finance bills.
Simon Clarke, MP for East Cleveland described the news as “devastating”.
He said: “I am deeply disappointed about the way the announcement has been handled.
“I’ve visited Cleveland Potash twice in my first six months as the local MP and in detailed conversations with then Managing Director Marc Kirsten I received no warning of either the scale or the imminence of the job losses as the mine switches its operations from potash to polyhaylite mining – indeed, I was told job numbers were broadly stable.
“In a series of moves I am working to understand, Marc left his post shortly before Christmas and today’s announcement has been made.
“We now have to get on with helping the men affected.”
The mine, which has been based near Staithes since the 1970s, is one of the region’s biggest employers.
The area is already seen as job-starved, particularly in the wake of the closure of the SSI steelworks in Redcar back in 2015.
The exact number of job losses if yet to be confirmed, but the firm’s acting managing director, Andrew Fulton, said around 230 are at risk.
The fresh round of redundancies will leave around 500 employees at the site, where numbers have dwindled from more than 1,000 just a few years ago. Mr Fulton, stressed that the move to polyhalite was vital to secure the mine’s future and that despite the anticipated job losses, it would remain East Cleveland’s biggest employer.
Cllr Derek Bastiman, Leader of Scarborough Council said: “The news about the expected job losses at Boulby mine is a huge blow for the Yorkshire coast community including the many employees and their families living in the Whitby area, who are now, understandably, very anxious about their future.
“We will do anything we can to assist those affected and we are mobilising our support plans with immediate effect.
“For anyone that hasn’t had to go through the recruitment process for a number of years, the thought of having to ‘start afresh’ in the jobs market can be a daunting prospect, so we welcome discussions with partners who could offer advice or training on much needed skills such as interview techniques, CV writing skills and financial planning.
"We would also be happy to work with ICL UK, Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, Job Centre Plus, Scarborough JobMatch and other recruitment providers to highlight the alternative and varied job opportunities available in our borough.”