Chief executive of Anglo American visits Scarborough as takeover of Sirius Minerals is completed

The takeover of Sirius Minerals by mining giant Anglo American has now been completed.

By Corinne Macdonald
Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 4:35 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 4:36 pm
The Scarborough headquarters. Picture: JPI Media
The Scarborough headquarters. Picture: JPI Media

Sirius Minerals, whose headquarters is in Scarborough and who were building the Woodsmith polyhalite mine near Whitby, was sold for £405m.

Trading in Sirius shares was suspended on Monday morning before the takeover scheme became effective on Tuesday.

Anglo’s chief executive Mark Cutifani visited the Scarborough headquarters to meet staff earlier this week.

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Mr Cutifani greets staff in Scarborough. Picture: Sirius Minerals.

The timeline for construction remains largely the same as it did for Sirius with Anglo committing to spend $300m dollars per year for the next two years.

Mr Cutifani said: “Somewhere, probably in 2022, we’d look to accelerate and commit to the full project.

“[Sirius’] estimate was to be on production some time in 2024 and up near full production in 2026 so no changes yet.

“We’ll work with the team over the next couple of months and just test the assumptions but at this stage that’s what we’re starting with.”

Mr Cutifani visits staff in Scarborough. Picture: Sirius Minerals.

In Anglo’s takeover offer it said it expected to maintain Sirius’ headquarters in Scarborough and Mr Cutifani confirmed the new firm had “no intention to move people”.

“There’s no reason why we wouldn’t stay here and keep working in the local community which is what we’d prefer to do.”

He said that having looked at the construction plans, there were some smaller details which may change but the overall picture is expected to stay the same.

However he described Sirius’ target of mining 10million tonnes of product over a two-year period as an “an aggressive schedule” and while he didn’t think it would necessarily take longer, Anglo would be questioning the aggressiveness of the target.

He added: “This is all stuff you’d expect, we think the team’s done a pretty good job.”

In full operation the project is anticipated to bring 1,000 direct and 1,500 indirect jobs to the area and Mr Cutifani said Anglo’s preference was that they would be filled locally.

He said: “It’s always our preference to fill employment locally because you’re creating opportunities for local people and secondly local people’s knowledge of the area and their relationships and understanding of how the community works is always a big advantage.

“From our point of view if we can help develop schools, apprenticeships, those sort of things, we’re doing more than simply creating jobs, we’re hopefully creating a future for kids in the community and that’s a big part of the commitment we’ve made.”

Thousands of local people invested in shares in Sirius Minerals, which peaked at 46p in 2016, and many will have lost money in the takeover.

When asked what he would say to those people, Mr Cutifani said: “We feel for the locals and some people have experienced quite substantial loss.

“What we worried about in trying to devise a scheme where people could fold their shares into Anglo shares is Anglo is a global mining company and we would be worried that people wouldn’t understand the risks they were taking on given that they’ve experienced a tough set of circumstances with Sirius.”

He added that Anglo has seen its own share price halve in the past week due to coronavirus.

Anglo American’s surprise takeover bid was announced on January 20 this year.

Despite being controversial with some shareholders in the area, the offer was approved in a crunch vote on March 3 when the offer received majority support from shareholders.

Sirius Minerals was sold for £405m, with shareholders receiving a 5.5p per share payout.

The takeover was sanctioned by the High Court of England and Wales on March 13.