Sirius Minerals signs fertiliser deal with Qatari company as it seeks funding for Woodsmith mine project

The Woodsmith mine site
The Woodsmith mine site

Sirius Minerals, which has slowed down the development of its mining project near Whitby as it looks for new funding, has signed a deal for its fertiliser with a Qatari state-owned company.

The Scarborough-based company has signed a 10-year supply and distribution agreement with Qatari state-owned Muntajat for the sale of over two million tonnes per year of POLY4 fertiliser into Africa, Australia, New Zealand and certain Middle Eastern and Asian territories.

This takes total aggregate peak sales volumes to 13.8 million tonnes per year.

The setback to Sirius' plan: what we know so far, see HERE
Chris Fraser, Managing Director and CEO of Sirius, said: "We are delighted to expand our growing partnership with Qatar through this long-term supply agreement with Muntajat.

"Qatar is already a major investor in Sirius via QIA and Sirius is working with Muntajat to explore the downstream combination of POLY4 with nitrogen products in Qatar and/or the United Kingdom to create a value-added multi-nutrient fertilizer.

"This new supply agreement with Muntajat provides us with access to a number of new markets for POLY4 and further underpins the large scale, international market appetite for POLY4, lifting our aggregate peak sales volumes to 13.8 Mtpa."

Sirius mine: how young people could be affected if it falters, see HERE
Abdulrahman Ali Al-Abdulla, Chief Executive Officer of Muntajat, said: "We see tremendous potential in POLY4 and Sirius' Project which will enable us to bring this multi-nutrient product to our extensive global customer network."

In May the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) acquired a 3.3 per cent stake in Sirius Minerals.

Sirius Minerals is developing the Woodsmith Mine at Sneaton, near Whitby, to become the world’s biggest producer of polyhalite, a type of potash fertiliser.

But in September the company cancelled the planned sale of a $500 bond issue due to "global market conditions" and the "uncertainty surrounding Brexit", and said it would be slowing down operations at Woodsmith Mine to "buy ourselves some time".

The company believes doing so is "in the best interests of the company and our shareholders".

A six-month strategic review will try to identify a different way to finance the project. Options might include "redistributing our finances" or "seeking a large partner", however, the company needs to find a solution by March 2020, the date by which the current cash resources will run out.

When the announcement was made Sirius experienced a sharp drop in its share price and lost half of its market value.

More than 7,000 people have signed a petition calling on the Government to provide the company with a loan guarantee. You can sign the petition HERE