Proposed potash mine site revealed near Whitby


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The Independent Online

A mineral mining company has announced the proposed location of an “unobtrusive” state-of-the-art mine in a national park.

The potash mine would be built near Whitby, in the North York Moors National Park, and would be of low visual impact, Sirius Minerals said.

Around 1.3 billion tonnes of polyhalite has been discovered below the protected Yorkshire coastline - believed to be the world's biggest and best quality supply of the valuable mineral.

The discovery of the mineral, which is processed to make premium potash fertiliser, could create more than 1,000 jobs and generate £1.5 billion a year.

The York Potash Project would see a 1,500-metre mine sunk beneath the park, which would tunnel outwards and pump the polyhalite underground around 30 miles north to Teesside, where it would be processed.

Today's announcement revealed that the mine would be located around 4km south of Whitby on the B1416, near the village of Sneaton.

Initial designs show that the isolated site, located within an existing commercial forestry block, would occupy less than 4.5 hectares of the 100-hectare site controlled by York Potash.

Parts of the mine would be sunken and covered by agricultural-style buildings and the site would be heavily screened by mature trees and completely concealed.

Material excavated during the mine construction would be used to landscape the site but traditional twin vertical shafts, sunk from the surface, would greatly reduce the amount removed.

The location was chosen after a 12-month review by Sirius Minerals and York Potash, which will now begin a six-week local consultation with the public.

Sirius Minerals has also submitted an Environmental Impact Assessment screening and scoping request to the North York Moors National Park Authority.

The full planning application is expected to be submitted before the end of 2012.

Chris Fraser, managing director and CEO of Sirius Minerals, said: "From the outset, Sirius has said we would develop a state-of-the-art potash mine at York Potash in an unobtrusive manner.

"Our proposed location and initial designs show what would be a relatively simple concept to construct, but with one of the world's most innovative approaches to low-impact mine design.

"This is a nationally significant project that will bring extensive benefits to North Yorkshire and the wider British economy at a time of great need and for generations to come.

"The effort in our design work demonstrates that we will deliver on our commitment to the local community and we look forward to feedback on these plans through the public consultation process over the coming weeks."