The development of a potash mine set to create thousands of jobs on the outskirts of Scarborough could be completed sooner than expected and at a cheaper cost.
York Potash, the company behind the proposals, says the mine, set to be built near Sneaton, could be completed as soon as 2016.
Further engineering work and investigations by the firm’s parent company Sirius Minerals has revealed the underground mine, which will include a pipeline to Teesside, could be built three months quicker than previously thought.
As a result of the work the build costs have been reduced to just over £1 billion, compared to the to £1.7 billion originally estimated.
The figures, which outline the pre-production capital costs, were outlined in a Project Study Update, released earlier this week.
Bosses at York Potash believe the revelations will make the development more appealing to investors as the reduced costs required will reduce the project risk.
They also say the quicker building phase will minimise the impact of the mine’s construction.
Chris Fraser, managing director and chief executive of Sirius Minerals said: “This study shows that we can significantly reduce the capital costs of the mine and construct the project quicker than we previously anticipated – speeding up the job creation and all the associated benefits of the project for the region.
“This is an important milestone for the York Potash Project because it outlines how, by maximising the unique benefits of Polyhalite, we can become a world leader in the fertilizer industry, helping to provide a solution to the growing issue of global food security.”
Sirius also announced the results of a ‘Concept Study’ which confirms the viability of producing NPK fertilisers using Polyhalite, the potash ore targeted by the project.
Polyhalite is a unique source of potassium, sulphur, magnesium and calcium.
The company believes that this would be an innovative way of producing NPK fertilisers with all six macro nutrients that plants need for growth.
Currently, most of the world’s potash is typically mixed with nitrogen and phosphorous to create NPK fertilisers which allow farmers to provide balanced nutrients to their crops.
As the study results are announced further works are being carried out in the area ahead of the planned submission of the company’s first formal planning application at the end of the year.
On the site for the proposed mine, which is currently a farm and holiday cottages known as Doves Nest Farm, and a commercial forestry off the B1416, an access road is being built to a temporary drilling rig.
York Potash is also now taking applications for its undergraduate programme for the second year running.
The programme is available to support up to five local students planning to go university and take earth sciences or engineering courses.
The company is looking for talented and ambitious individuals who will receive a £3,000 a year bursary towards their tuition fees for three years, plus three paid summer placements and the chance to be offered a full-time position with the company after graduation.
Full details can be seen on the website www.yorkpotash.co.uk. Students need to apply by March 31 2013.