Sirius Minerals plans controversial potash mine for UK national park

4 September 2012 (Last Updated September 4th, 2012 18:30)

Potash development company Sirius Minerals said it plans to develop the proposed York Potash Mine on the outskirts of Whitby, which lies within the boundary of England's North York Moors National Park.

York Potash mine

Potash development company Sirius Minerals said it plans to develop the proposed York Potash Mine on the outskirts of Whitby, which lies within the boundary of England's North York Moors National Park.

The company said it will develop the mine in an "unobtrusive manner" to minimise visual and environmental impacts.

But green groups fear it could create a "massive scar" on the landscape.

Friends of the Earth campaigner Simon Bowens told the Daily Mail, "We are very concerned about this project, which could be a massive scar on the landscape."

Around 1.3 billion tonnes of polyhalite has been discovered at the site, believed to be the world's biggest and best quality supply of the mineral.

The site's current use comprises farming and commercial forestry, and benefits from extensive woodland screening.

Sirius said in a statement that the selection of the mine location has allowed the company to further minimise the visual impart of the mine, as part of a long-standing commitment to the local community and investors.

Ongoing engineering design work has resulted in the company replacing the twin drift tunnel design considered in the Detailed Scoping Study released 30 April 2012, with more traditional twin vertical shafts sunk from the surface.

"This has resulted in greatly reduced volumes of excavated material during mine construction and has further reduced the surface area footprint," the company said.

Once constructed, the entire site infrastructure will occupy less than 4.5ha of the 100ha site controlled by York Potash.

Sirius Minerals expects to complete the full planning application and undertake the formal launch of the planning process with the submission of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Screening and Scoping Request before December 2012.

Sirius Minerals managing director Chris Fraser said that the company had always planned the advanced potash mine to be unobtrusive.

"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," Fraser added.

"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."


Image: Sirius Minerals has selected the location of the potash mine after a review of a number of sites both within and outside the National Park. Photo: Sirius Minerals