UNION chiefs say they hope to have “meaningful discussions” with the parties involved in the potential sale of a long-standing potash mine.

Israeli Chemicals Limited (ICL) is understood to be in talks about a sale of the Cleveland potash site in Boulby, east Cleveland, to mining company Sirius.

Both companies have not directly commented, although reports from Israel suggest a delegation of executives from Sirius have already visited their counterparts in the Middle East.

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Tim Bush, from Unite’s Middlesbrough office, said: “ICL always have the view that every business is for sale.

“We are watching this at the moment and if it does move to an agreement over a sale we will be raising this with the company and talking to Sirius.”

Mr Bush said Unite had already had low-key discussions with Sirius over its plans to extract the fertiliser polyhalite from Sneaton, near Whitby.

He also said nothing had been said officially to the 700 plus-strong workforce at Boulby.

Mr Bush said a number of redundancies over recent years had put a question mark over ICL’s east Cleveland operation.

He said: “We need to have some meaningful discussions with both parties and see what Sirius’s plans are for the future.

“Cleveland Potash have spent many years developing polyhalite seams under the North Sea so there are synergies there.”

ICL, which has interests in Israel, Hong Kong, China and Japan, is said to be attempting to sell off its non-core operations in order to reduce the group’s debt.