From Whitby to Peru and back ... a local man has told of why plans for a potash mine made him take the 6,000 mile journey back home.
Tristan Pottas was working as a geologist at a gold copper mine and living in the Andes in South America when he heard rumours about plans to construct a mine on the outskirts of his home town.
He had left Whitby in 2007 to take a similar job in Australia but returned to Whitby in 2011 to go to a wedding.
It was a chance conversation at the reception that led him to meet with Boulby Mine’s original geologist from the 1960s and also Chris Fraser, the man behind the latest project.
Tristan told the Gazette: “After feeling the passion and energy it was very easy for me to go back to Peru that same day and I handed my notice in with an international mining company.
“It was very easy for me to take the risk and get involved. It is the most exciting mining project anywhere in the world.
“Every mining company would wish for a deposit of this nature.”
Tristan’s job is one of 60 that have been created so far under the York Potash umbrella but the prediction is that 1500 will follow along with an annual wage bill of £35 million.
After plans for the mine were first aired in 2011 there has been comprehensive test drilling at various locations between Whitby and the former Dove’s Nest farm at Sneatonthorpe, which was eventually identified as being the preferred location for the mine base.
He managed and oversaw that process and results revealed that in the vicinity of Whitby there were the thickest and highest grade deposits of potash anywhere in the world.
Tristan added: “When you understand the geology it is no shock that they have chosen to build a mine here.
“For me, working on any project is great but when you know the benefits and the impact it will have on your own friends and family - that really captures the imagination.”
Tristan attended the former Caedmon School and studied geology as an A-Level at Scarborough sixth form before leaving for Australia and warns that if the mine doesn’t go ahead there will be another mass exodus of young people.
“In my group of friends there are only a handful that remain in the town. They had to leave to pursue a decent job.
“I moved back to Whitby to have this job, two weeks later I met Sarah and we got married in the National Park, bought a house and contribute to the local economy.
“The reality of the situation is should this not go ahead, our house is on the market and we look for opportunities elsewhere. If there is nothing for people to stay for, why would they?”