MPs hit out at Government for not supporting Sirius amid potential crisis

The Woodsmith mine. PIC: Sirius Minerals
The Woodsmith mine. PIC: Sirius Minerals

Two Labour MPs in the North East have hit out at the Government for not backing Sirius Minerals after they announced they were slowing construction this morning due to funding issues.

The company behind North Yorkshire's polyhalite mine project says will have to slow the development of Woodsmith mine due to funding issues, prompting a dramatic fall in share price.

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It had planned to issue a $500m bond to fund the next phase of construction but now says it is not in a position to do so due to "global market conditions", the "ongoing uncertainty surrounding Brexit", and the current political climate.

The companies shares fell 55% to 4p in early trading.

The plans for the site include a 37km tunnel which would transport the minerals mined in North Yorkshire to a processing plant on Teesside.

Now two MPs from the North-East have criticised the Government for not stepping in and providing funding to the project.

Labour MP for Redcar Anna Turley said on Twitter the announcement was "devastating news."

She continued: "The Sirius project is a major global investment providing over 1,200 jobs on Teesside and North Yorkshire and is one of the largest infrastructure projects in Europe.

"That the Government are refusing to step in and secure this enormous project is an absolute disgrace. This failure lies squarely at their feet.

"Tory warm words about commitment to Teesside and a Northern Powerhouse are ringing hollow today. This is not a government committed to an industrial strategy for Britain or with a vision for the North that includes investment, jobs and prosperity, or they would step in immediately."

MORE NEWS: Sirius Minerals to slow down Woodsmith mine construction due to funding issue

Middlesbrough Labour MP Andy McDonald has also expressed his anger towards the Government.

He tweeted: "This Government has completely taken its eye off the ball and, like the podium in Luxembourg, Boris Johnson and his hard right pals have gone missing at a time of crisis.

"This mad administration, propelling the country to economic cliff edge, seems determined to do everything they can to destroy the industrial base of Teesside. They’re keen enough to give tax breaks to gambling bankers but won’t lift a finger to help our industries

"Sirius is critical to Teesside’s future and if Government stands aside as they did with the Redcar Blast Furnace they will never be forgiven.”

Sirius will now undertake a strategic review to look at other options to secure funding.

In a statement, a spokesperson from Sirius said: "The Board considers that a reduced pace of development focused on key areas of the project that will ultimately serve to preserve the most value for the project will provide the Company with a period of up to six months to review all available options for the Company to move forward.

"The Group will need to secure additional external financing in order to allow it to continue operations after 31 March 2020."

The company's bond issue, which is necessary to unlock a $2.5 billion revolving credit facility offered by US investment bank JP Morgan, had already been paused last month.

At the time, Sirius blamed market conditions and the negative impact of the trade war between the US and China.