Science centre to accompany potash mine

UP TO £2.8 million has been awarded to the company behind plans to build a potash mine between Scarborough and Whitby.

York Potash has been granted the sum from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund to develop a Geosciences Innovation Centre in the region.

The aim of the Sirius Global Centre of Excellence in Applied Innovation in Geosciences will be to accelerate the latest technological advances in mining and geoscience, in light of the proposed potash mine.

Sirius will look to collaborate with UK and international universities and research organisations to build a “living laboratory” around the York Potash Project, which it is the parent company of.

The immediate focus of the centre and the grant funding will be to help Sirius bring its global activities to North Yorkshire to support the technical work and innovations involved in the development of the York Potash Project.

Bosses say the long-term vision is to establish the facility as an independent developer of advanced geosciences technologies for the global mining industry and new skills for current and future geoscientists.

Chris Fraser, managing director of Sirius Minerals said: “With global population growth putting greater pressure on the world’s natural resources, research and innovation into how to extract hard-to-reach minerals will become increasingly important. This centre will help Sirius to have access to the highly-skilled talent that will be necessary to plan, build and operate our mines of the future.

“The York Potash Project provides an ideal platform to develop North Yorkshire’s and the UK’s capabilities in these highly technical fields. Without this initiative, this work would have to be completed elsewhere in the world. This enabling support from the Government can help us to create and retain these skills in North Yorkshire for the long-term.

“By working with leading universities and vocational colleges we believe we can train a future generation of geoscientists that can help to put North Yorkshire on the global map for cutting-edge research.

“The York Potash Project over time is expected to generate 1,000 direct jobs and up to a further 4,000 indirect jobs as part of the plan to provide the UK with a long-term secure supply of potash. The centre is an example of the types of flow-on benefits that a large innovative project like York Potash can bring when done in the right way with proactive support from the Government.”

The funding was announced by the Department of Business and Innovation Skills as part of a bid to stimulate growth.