Potash bosses in Wykeham move

Wykeham Business Centre
Wykeham Business Centre

SCARBOROUGH’S major potash mine project is moving forward as directors behind the scheme move to an office on the outskirts of town.

Sirius Minerals, which plans to build the first UK potash mine in 40 years between Scarborough and Whitby, has set up base in an office at Wykeham Business Centre.

The news comes as the project gathers pace, with bosses planning to submit initial applications for test drilling sites within the next month.

The company says it is in the final stages of putting applications together for test drilling in the area, which along with geological and seismic studies, will eventually help determine where the mine head will be placed.

Plans for the mine were unveiled in January when 600sq km of mining rights between Scarborough and Whitby were sold by York Potash to Sirius Minerals.

Following the takeover Sirius, which specialises in potash exploration and development, announced proposals for the mine which is estimated to created up to 5,000 jobs both directly and indirectly, with 1,500 jobs created alone during the development and construction phase and 1,000 people operating the mine.

Sirius has now moved in to office space at Wykeham, on the Dawnay Estate’s business parks, which has recently been installed with high speed broadband.

Bosses say they are now well positioned to finalise plans for exploration work at between five and ten drilling sites, with drilling work due to be completed by the end of the year.

Chris Fraser, chief executive of Sirius Minerals and founder of York Potash, said: “We can’t say where we are planning to drill yet as we want to finish speaking with local parishes before we reveal any locations.

“We are looking at low impact sites though, not on the Moors, and it won’t more obtrusive than gas or oil drilling.

“After moving to Wykeham we now have good access to the project. There is enough room for us there, and the project management will be run from the office.

“We use a lot of consultants and contractors so it is good we now have a base up here, close to the site, where we can meet and co-ordinate what is going on.”

Mr Fraser said the project is making use of geological data recorded in previous oil and gas drilling in the area, and also information collected in the 1960s when three potash projects were considered on the Yorkshire Coast, with only Boulby Mine actually being built.

He said: “This data will show us where the best, and safest place is to build the mine. It will also show that there is actually potash down there.

“There will be a general level of excitement when the first test drilling in completed and we pull the first piece of potash out of the ground.”

Mr Fraser says he expects the first drilling site to be finished in August or September, and believes the first plans for the actual mine could be submitted within 18 months to two years.

Sirius, which also has projects in Australia and the USA, believes the proposed mine has the potential to unearth billions of pounds worth of potash.

If the project goes ahead Sirius estimates agricultural potash, which is a powdery salt used in fertilizers, could be extracted from the new mine for the next 50 years.

The UK is currently only served by the Boulby Mine, which is also in North Yorkshire and is operated by Cleveland Potash Limited.