A potash company backed by local residents and former miners in Yorkshire was a step closer to opening a mine in the heart of the moors after initial planning permissions were approved.
Redcar and Cleveland borough council said Sirius Minerals could start mining for polyhalite potash which could help the world’s food growers to improve harvests by as much as 90 per cent.
Shares were suspended from the junior stock market, Aim, while the councillors made their decision. Such has been the interest from locals keen to buy stock in the company that there were fears the decision could leak and affect the share price.
When it was approved the shares jumped. They closed up 7.7 per cent at 14p, with 14.5 million changing hands in just three and a half hours.
Sirius must now persuade the North York Moors National Park authority that mining 6.5m tonnes of the white polyhalite pellets is commercially viable.
This will be followed by an application for harbour facilities at Teesside, from where the potash will be shipped, but that will not come through until next summer, once the Secretary of State for Transport has signed it off.
If all that is successful, the company will need to raise £1.5bn to actually build, open and operate the mine. It could create 1,000 jobs and £1.2bn in exports annually.
The company believes the polyhalite is unique because it contains four of the six macro-nutrients required for plant growth, while 97 per cent of local residents are said to be supportive – especially if it means the share price rises.