Yorkshire potash mine could fill all UK needs

Some of the world’s largest high-quality potash reserves have been found after test drilling for the York Potash Project between Scarborough and Whitby in the North York Moors National Park.

Shares in Sirius Minerals, the parent company of the York Potash Project, jumped last week after the company announced “fantastic” results from the first of six test boreholes. It plans to open a potash mine capable of supplying 100% of the UK’s requirements, as well as exporting significant volumes to Asia.

The new mine could produce upwards of 2m tonnes of sulphate of potash a year from polyhalite. “The first hole we have drilled in the York Potash Project has delivered one of the world’s single thickest potash intersections ever reported,” said managing director Chris Fraser.

The company has so far secured 631km2 of mineral rights from faramers and landowners, with this figure being continually added to.

It expects to put in a planning application for its mining operations by the end of 2012, and the new mine could be in production in 2015. It could create 1,000 direct jobs and could lead to a further 4,000 jobs in the wider supply chain, said a spokesman.

The mine would be a mile deep and could run for more than 100 years, said a spokesman. A separate planning application would be submitted to build an underground pipeline to take the mineral to Teesside for export, cutting out the need for road transport for this material across the national park. The world’s potash supplies are currently dominated by eight companies controlling 80% of global production.

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