Scarborough firm leading potash charge

The Doves Nest Farm site near Sneaton ''w133010b
The Doves Nest Farm site near Sneaton ''w133010b

The company behind plans to construct a world-leading potash mine at Sneatonthorpe, near Whitby say 85 per cent of its first phase production has already been sold.

Scarborough-based Sirius Minerals has announced that it has entered into a memorandum of understanding for 5million tonnes of polyhalite from leading Chinese firm Sichuan Agricultural Means Group.

This deal will last 10 years and means the firm now has agreements and commitments for customers to purchase a total of 4.28million tonnes a year from the project.

Chris Fraser, Sirius managing director and chief executive, said: “This is yet another demonstration of the global demand for polyhalite, the importance of the York Potash project to the UK economy and the strong ties we are developing with China.”

Sichuan is a major agricultural production company with interests in fertiliser and is also involved in mining, feed and agricultural industrialisation.

The group has an annual turnover of 13 billion Chinese Yuan.

Mr Fraser added: “Discussions are ongoing with customers around the world which, combined with the existing arrangements, would represent more demand than the initial Phase 1 production target of 5 million tonnes per annum.”

Following a number of set-backs, shares at Sirius Minerals bottomed out at around 6p each in November.

Recently, the company has been boosted by the news of these sales commitments and has recovered to almost 15p. This is still some way cheaper than the 30p high it achieved in January last year.

Last Monday, Sirius announced that Keith Clarke CBE has been appointed as non-executive director with immediate effect.

He is chair of trustees for Forum for the Future, non-executive director for Engineering UK, Future Cities Catapult and the British Standards Institute.

He is vice-president of the Institute of Civil Engineering and adviser to both Infrastructure UK and the Government of Qatar.

A planning decision date for the mine has been delayed until at least July of this year, but it could yet be pushed back further as the saga rumbles on.