Potash Powerhouse of the North

Mortal Mindy's picture

Is North Yorkshire about to become the Potash Power House of the world?

The York Potash application is in its final stage of approval for the worlds deepest Potash mine.

The Boulby Potash Mine has repeated its stake in forging ahead with its £50 mil expansion plans.

Northern Echo: 18/03/15 "POTASH bosses have launched £50m expansion plans to tighten their grip on the lucrative fertilizer market, The Northern Echo can reveal. ICL Fertilizers says it will build a granulation plant to ramp up polyhalite work at its Cleveland Potash mine at Boulby, in east Cleveland. The factory could open in three years, turning hundreds of thousands of tonnes of fine polyhalite into granules for agricultural use. The company said granule production will reduce waste, maximise sales and give farmers a preferred source of polyhalite. The company also reiterated proposals to extend its mine by at least another 40 years, to secure the futures of the next generation of workers.

Its existing planning permission is due to expire in 2023, with a new application expected to be submitted by 2019.

The polyhalite granulation plans come as it continues with a separate £38m investment across its mine, surface facilities and Teesport loading site to increase production of the mineral, which received support from the Government's Regional Growth Fund money.  That development is expected to be completed early next year, allowing it to mine about 600,000 tonnes of polyhalite, which bosses say holds key minerals capable of delivering strong crop growth, every year from 2018.

David Zvida, ICL’ Fertilizers’ managing director and general manager, said: “Polyhalite is a big product for us.  “We did 100,000 tonnes last year, but hope to take that up to 600,000 tonnes by 2018. It’s a bit like the chicken and the egg ... You need the product to sell, but need to sell the product... We hope to be ready in February next year with the investment in the mine, the surface facilities and the dock to start increasing production. Then it’s about the third phase and extending the investment with the granulation plant.

The company operates the UK’s only potash mine, producing more than a million tonnes of potash for fertilizers and in excess of half a million tonnes of salt every year. Mr Zvida said those statistics meant it was committed to strengthening its standing in east Cleveland, where it lies as a cornerstone of the local employment landscape with more than 1,200 workers. He added: “We are now working on the planning application, which we will submit by about 2019.

“That will be for at least 40 years... We want to be here and to continue growing.  The majority of people who work here are from the local community and we are committed to supporting that community.”

All very well and good but have they paid that £25,000 Section 106 agreement to promote tourism at Staithes yet?  And what about that huge amount of money paid to acquire a sales consultancy company?

Have York Potash shown them the error of their ways?  It was only 12 months ago that ICL/Boulby were saying there was no market for polyhalite.

"And the dock to start increasing production" - Have or will Boulby and York Potash share 'resources' and the loading/off-loading of the port facilities?

Isn't it about time both Boulby and York Potash banged their heads together and shared an industry, albeit independently,  that is capable of doing North Yorkshire and Cleveland proud?

What lengths will Boulby go to to oust York Potash from a market share of this now apparent 'lucrative' Polyhalite industry with a combined jobs or employment worth 2000 jobs direct plus the add on indirect jobs and supply chain worth an additional 4000 jobs at mining industry standards and 6000 jobs at construction industry model ratios.

York Potash have proved there is a global demand for Polyhalite with their pre-sales agreements.  Have Boulby been slow to catch on? Chicken and egg  or a deliberate attempt to have their cake and eat it.   Unofficial reports that Boulby deliberately ceased production of Polyhalite in 2009 as soon as they were aware of industry competition from York Potash's application remain - unconfirmed.  Yet York Potash's determination to use modern technology, environmental design to enhance increased efficiency for economies of scale production in the new proposed minehead have clearly been seen as a threat to Boulby and their workforce by their former Management.    Yet now and only now Boulby are singing from the same hymn sheet as York Potash - Polyhalite is the fertiliser of the future.

Perhaps NOW is the time for Boulby and York Potash to pool much needed resources, and aquiesce to the wishes of the North York Moors Park Authority's leading planning officer Chris France. "Share resources". And, indeed York Potash's claim that Boulby have earntswhile skills, experience and knowledge:  CEO Chris Frazer "there is room for two".

After all as Zvida points out they have to apply for a full planning application by 2023 "to be submitted by about 2019".   York Potash still have to circumnavigate their Application approval in 2015, to meet their aim to start production by 2018.

With so much at stake to either 'industrials' perhaps both Managements should reconsider their 'vulnerability' and work together to secure a positive outcome for the future of the Potash Power house of the North.

Chris Frazer CEO of Sirius Minerals quote "The Company has now returned to a close period as it moves towards, what Sirius expects to be, a more intense period of activity in relation to the current approval process for the York Potash Project's mine and mineral transport system."

Will either side back down in their bid to become No 1?

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