Potash drill find is ‘world class’

The site of the York Potash drilling rig alongside the B1447 road from Hawsker to Robin Hoods Bay. Picture Ceri Oakes. w114206ab
The site of the York Potash drilling rig alongside the B1447 road from Hawsker to Robin Hoods Bay. Picture Ceri Oakes. w114206ab

THE thickest deposit of potash ever reported in the world has been discovered near Scarborough.

The “fantastic” find was made by the firm behind proposals for a potash mine between Scarborough and Whitby.

Bosses at York Potash predict Scarborough is lying on billions of pounds worth of the plant fertiliser.

The entire project – which hopes to create 5,000 jobs by building the UK’s first potash mine in 40 years – has now taken a giant leap forward following the unexpected preliminary results.

from its first test drilling site near Robin Hood’s Bay.

Coring work has revealed almost four times the estimated amount of potash lying more than 1,500 metres below the surface.

Chris Fraser, managing director of Sirius Minerals, parent company of York Potash said: “Although preliminary, these are fantastic results that are a validation of the world-class status of the project.

“The first hold we have drilled has delivered one of the world’s single thickest potash intersections ever reported.”

The site of the mine head is yet to be determined and will be based around the results of wider test drilling.

York Potash told the Evening News calculations for the entire project had been based on an estimated five meter thickness of high grade potash.

However the test drilling has revealed a depth of 19 metres.

With a global demand rising, the price of potash stands at $620 US a tonne.

It is estimated there is more than six billion tonnes lying under the Yorkshire Coast, spreading as far as Germany.

The news has stirred up excitement surrounding the project, which could created 1,000 direct mining jobs and 4,000 indirect jobs.

Cllr Tom Fox, leader of Scarborough Council, said: “It is really good news, and it is exciting news.

“The fact that the find is so substantial really encourages the investment needed for this project will need.

“The demand for potash globally is massive, so this is a fantastic opportunity for us in the area.

“We just hope that they can move forward now to put the in a planning application that is acceptable to everybody.”

While the mineral cores uncovered are now being sent for chemical analysis with the British Geological Survey, York Potash is continuing with its test drilling at sites near Ugglebarnby, Sneatonthorpe, and a fourth site off the A171 south of the Flask Inn.

Much of the test drilling is taking place in the North York Moors National Park, which has sparked fears the mine could put spoil the surrounding landscape.

York Potash hopes to finish test drilling by the end of the year and submit its first planning application for the mine next year.

Mr Fraser added: “I’d like to thank local people for their understanding while we have been carrying out the first phase of drilling.

“Work on this important first hole took longer than originally scheduled, but we have gained a valuable and detailed insight into the geology of the area which should help us to complete the next drilling holes quickly and efficiently.”

- Potash is polyhalite (potassium sulphate) and is used as a plant fertiliser.

- There is only a few places in the world where potash exists.

- The global market value of potash at $620 US per tonne.

- It is estimated there is more than six billion tonnes of potash in the basin which runs under Scarborough and beneath the ocean as far as Germany.

- Test drilling reached a depth of 1,669 metres/ 5,474 feet, the equivalent length of almost 14 football pitches, and 151 double decker buses.

- The mine is expected to create 1,000 jobs directly and 4,000 jobs indirectly.

- It will be the first potash mine in the UK for 40 years and only the second in the country after Boulby Mine, north of Whitby.