Don’t let them kill Whitby’s golden goose

I have watched in dismay at the perfect storm that is being played out at the expense of all those local people who have invested in the Sneaton mine, and at the antics of those who think we must all be protected from the grave mistake of allowing anything industrial to intrude inside the sacred 1952 boundaries of the national park.

According to the published map on the national park web site these boundaries INCLUDE the Boulby Potash Mine which went ahead in 1973 and has provided welcome employment ever since.

It is also being expanded and, rumour has it, is seeking out its own polyhalite treasure to give it another 40 years of production.

Unfortunately for their Israeli owners Yorkshire Potash Sirius Minerals patiently explored a nearby site and discovered the worlds largest known deposit of polyhalite .

This is also bad news for the huge potash developments elsewhere in the world, in particular in Canada.

It seems clear that the national park does not want the new mine to open and have offered the olive branch of allowing it to proceed if it cuts the (mine) head off and moves it outside their boundary; after all what goes on a mile down can be tolerated; it’s just the little bit they can see that gives them a problem never mind the relative eyesore at the other national park mine.

Brilliant, it’s a variation on the Porridge sketch where Fletcher tells McKay that they disposed of the waste from the escape tunnel by digging another tunnel and putting it in there.

So what next? Well let’s get an expert witness to pick holes in the Sirius case. Who better than AMEC, a multi-billion organisation, heavily involved in other potash developments particularly in Canada.

AMEC to date have said the Sirius project continues to find more environmental questions although presumably with their technical background they would have pounced on any practical reasons why the project won’t work.

It begs the question why such a large (and expensive) company would bother with a comparative minnow like Sirius Minerals. Could it possibly be to protect its other interests and if so who is actually paying their hefty consultancy bill?

So why is this a perfect storm, rather then the cut and thrust of normal business practices.

Well because the national park and its associated protesters are delaying the park authority from coming to a decision and allowing them to ‘hide’ behind the barrier AMEC is giving them as to why they should reject the scheme.

The one constant in this equation is that there are still several billion tons of polyhalite down there which the world will need, which is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than its rival potash product, and which has the potential to

Transform both the local and even the national economy with a lot less environmental damage than other government led national schemes would create eg fracking.

Meanwhile there is a feeding frenzy going on in the blood sucking financial world. The big players have zero interest in the fortunes of our area and zero interest in whether this mine goes ahead or not.

their interest is to get a wave going on the share price by setting their infernal machines with pre-loaded buy and sell targets beloved by the hyper-traders so that any profitable movement can be cashed and re-cashed on a daily or hourly basis and the traders can keep scooping our cash into their pockets.

Any rumour or speculation, generated largely by the national park’s indecision, is having a catastrophic impact on share prices and spooking small investors into selling at a loss. Investment agencies are now piling doom on gloom and forcing share prices so low that Sirius may have problems in raising enough money to see the project through,despite the reserves being there and countries like China placing advance orders.

What a tragedy that would be and at the moment the national park and the nay sayers have to take most of the blame for risking strangling this natural asset at birth.

Who will be the losers? Not the money markets; they will have milked the cow and fed on the carcase and by reducing Sirius to a penny share they will then make a fortune when the government steps in to (if necessary) reverse the planning decision and sell this huge source of wealth to the highest bidder.

Chinese or Russian ownership would seem the most likely to develop the mine some of the jobs could still be there (the Chinese like to bring their own workforce), but the profits would go elsewhere and why would they want to support Whitby or its people as Sirius have promised to do.

Do not forget of course that there is also the real possibility that other (global) potash interests would buy it and make sure it never opened in order to defend their own businesses. The oil business was famous for this in their boom years where good ideas to reduce oil consumption were bought out and quietly strangled.

I look forwards to Sirius making the case for polyhalite as a better alternative to potash and for the current investors not to sell out to the voracious stock traders. It was interesting to note that the new Governor of the Bank of England has hit out at banking activities which are geared to making large profits from trading (for themselves) and not interested in serving the needs of the public and businesses.

Perhaps he would be interested in what is happening to Whitby’s (once in a lifetime but lasting a lifetime ) golden goose opportunity, which seems to be getting sacrificed on the altar of short term gain by the speculators, while being fuelled by the NIMBYS.

We need a referendum; perhaps the Whitby Gazette could help in giving the local people a voice.

Frank Atkinson

Whitby Avenue,