A COMPANY aiming to build a £1.5bn mine in a national park has denied it intends to scale back the plans.

Sirius Minerals says it still wants to extract up to 15 million tonnes of polyhalite every year from under the North York Moors National Park, near Whitby.

A report from the park's planning committee had claimed the firm was looking to reduce annual mining work, which it said could damage the scheme's local economic benefits.

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Park bosses also questioned the quality of polyhalite, a form of the fertiliser potash, saying it could be limited to niche markets.

However, Sirius, which has a number of deals to sell its product globally, told The Northern Echo it remains focused on extracting its maximum capacity of between 12 and 15 million tonnes of polyhalite every year if the mine is approved.

The development, known as the York Potash Project, could create up 1,000 jobs, but stalled last year when plans were deferred to address environmental concerns.

Bosses expect to re-submit the proposals by the end of July and say they are confident of satisfying all points raised by the authority.

The park's report said: “It is understood there are likely to be important and potentially significant changes to the plans, which includes the likely reduced annual tonnage extraction of polyhalite.

“A main outstanding area of uncertainty also relates to the product.

“The chemical composition of polyhalite, being relatively low in potassium and high in sulphur compared to more conventional forms of potash, has implications in terms of its bulk transport cost and use.

“According to the advice the authority has received, these implications limit its effectiveness to niche circumstances rather than widespread application.”

However, Sirius, which last year visited China as part of a Government trade mission to bolster its position across the international potash market, said its new plans would prove the effectiveness of the mine.

The firm already has agreements to send millions of tonnes of polyhalite to companies in China, Latin America, the US and Africa.

Chris Fraser, Sirius' chief executive, said: “Our teams of specialist consultants have been working on addressing the areas of extra information required for the previous application, and are continually looking at ways of improving the scheme and reducing the impacts.

“Our approach is ensuring the team of specialists is providing all the required information and that methodologies for environmental and other study work are being agreed in advance with the National Park and its consultants.”