THOUSANDS of tonnes of potash fertiliser from North Yorkshire is to be exported to South-East Asia after a major deal has been agreed.

Sirius Minerals has agreed an initial seven year deal which could see up to 750,000 tonnes of the product POLY4 being supplied to customers in countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines and Myanmar. The deal could be upgraded to one million tonnes and extended to ten years.

The £2bn polyhalite mine at Sneaton, on the North York Moors near Whitby, is one of the largest in the world and is currently under construction. Once up and running the mineral will be transported to Teesside for processing and export via an underground tunnel.

The deal is also good news for local projects. Profits amounting to 0.5 per cent of sales from the mine are donated to the charity Sirius Minerals Foundations, set up to share revenue from the mine at Sneaton near Whitby. The charity was set up to ensure local people benefit directly from the success of the mine.

A further percentage of profits go those who own mineral rights to the land where the mine is situation.

The “offtake” deal to sell large volumes of the fertiliser product has been agreed with the Wilmar Group, Asia’s leading agribusiness group which has its headquarters in Singapore.

A spokesman for Sirius Minerals said Wilmar International’s distribution network covers 50 countries. The South-East Asia countries it will be reselling to have a fast-growing population and the fertiliser will help improve food yields.

"We are delighted to be partnering with one of the largest and most established fertilizer buyers and distributors in South East Asia,” said Chris Fraser, Sirius managing director.

“Wilmar is a partner with the capacity to reach a diverse customer base through well established, trusted relationships.

“South East Asia is a fast-growing market which provides Sirius with an attractive opportunity to further diversify and grow our current portfolio of customers."

The agreement sent the company’s shares up by four per cent to 27.49p on Thursday.

The deal brings Sirius Mineral’s offtake agreements to between 4.4million tonnes and 5.5 million tonnes a year.