WORK to build a new fertiliser mine has moved a step closer after shareholders approved its finance plan.

Sirius Minerals, the company behind the 1,000 job York Potash project, near Whitby, said its plans were “modestly oversubscribed.”

Chris Fraser, managing director and chief executive of Sirius, said: "I would like to thank our shareholders for their continuing support and playing their part in this important moment in the company's history.

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“It has always been our intention to make this provision available and it's good to see so many existing shareholders taking part."

Sirius confirmed preparation work including further geotechnical studies on site are due to begin immediately, whilst road improvements and detailed site preparation work is scheduled to begin in the new year.

Russell Scrimshaw, chairman of Sirius, added: “The financing has taken a huge amount of work and dedication from everyone at the company and also from those that support our business.

“We are now focussed on the construction programme ahead and the path to first production for our North Yorkshire polyhalite project."

The Northern Echo revealed last week that work on the mine could start as early as next spring.

The company has already started smaller engineering work to prepare for more significant endeavours, including the sinking of mine shafts.

The development, which is expected to create more than 1,000 direct jobs and support a similar number in the supply chain, aims to extract the fertiliser polyhalite from land near Whitby, with production planned to get underway in late 2021.

Australia’s richest woman, Gina Rinehart, has already given her backing to Sirius through her Hancock British Holdings enterprise.

Under the terms of the finance deal, Hancock will pay £205m for the rights to five per cent of gross revenue on the first 13 million tonnes of sales every year, and another one per cent for sales above the 13 million figure.