THE company behind a 1,000-job fertiliser mine has been handed the crucial paperwork for building work to start next year on the landmark project.
The decision notice from the North York Moors National Park Authority, which formally grants planning permission for the £1.5bn York Potash Project mine, near Whitby, gives the go ahead for Sirius to start digging.
It now needs to secure financing to take forward its bold plans. Industry experts have estimated that the cost to get the mine up and running is about £2.3 billion.
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The company said its financing strategy is advancing and the first phase is planned to be put in place during the first quarter of 2016.
Sirius wants to take the fertiliser mineral polyhalite from underneath the North York Moors National Park, using an underground tunnel to transfer it to a proposed handling site at Wilton, near Redcar, for distribution.
The receipt of the decision notice is a major milestone for Sirius and is the conclusion of more than four years of work of navigating the bold scheme through the planning process.
Sirius bosses say the mine will create 1,040 direct jobs, with a further 1,010 supported in the construction and development phase, and £1.2bn delivered in exports.
The project now has all the planning approvals it needs to commence construction and is also continuing value engineering work with a number of contractors in order to prepare for future construction.
Chris Fraser, the managing director and chief executive of Sirius, said: "We are delighted to be through this key approvals process and to now be moving into the delivery phase of this world class project.
"On behalf of everyone at Sirius, I want to thank the thousands of people who have supported the project to date and we look forward to beginning construction during 2016."
Rival miner ICL Fertilizers, at Boulby, east Cleveland, says the development could cause a regional skills shortage and halt its own multi-million pound expansion.
Based just 12 miles from Whitby, it says Sirius’ proposals should be moved further away from its site, fearing damage to a £50m polyhalite investment.
The firm, known by many as Cleveland Potash, is already mining polyhalite, and is now building a processing plant for the material.