MORE than 200 mining jobs are at risk after a company revealed further operational changes.

Cleveland Potash Limited says it is pushing forward with a proposal to switch mining work.

The move could mean as many as 230 jobs are affected.

The company, based at Boulby, east Cleveland, previously revealed traditional potash fertiliser stocks were close to exhaustion.

At the time, bosses said it would restructure operations to ramp up work on the multi-nutrient fertiliser polyhalite, which it markets as polysulphate.

Hundreds of workers have already left in previous rounds of redundancies, but the company says that despite its changes, the business will remain East Cleveland’s largest employer with about 500 staff.

Officials say they will now begin talks with unions about its latest plans, with traditional work on muriate of potash expected to end in six months' time. 

Andrew Fulton, acting managing director, said: “When we first announced our restructuring plans two years ago, we made it clear potash reserves were close to the end and, at the point when they were exhausted, we would make the transition to polyhalite production, with the inevitable impact on our workforce levels.

“At this stage, it is not possible to be precise regarding the numbers involved.

“We are committed to keeping job losses to a minimum and will be discussing the implications with our trade union.

“However, job losses could be in the region of 230.

“We understand this will be a difficult time for our workforce and their families.

“However, with the end of potash production, we have to concentrate on polyhalite production in order to ensure we remain a viable business and are able to continue to make a major contribution to the local economy.”

Reacting to the news, Councillor Sue Jeffrey, leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, said it was a "real blow" to workers and the area as a whole.

She said: "We are devastated by this announcement and my thoughts are with everyone affected.

"We are just beginning to recover from the closure of SSI UK just over two years ago and again we are in a position where we will be seeing hundreds of people forced out of work and facing huge uncertainty. 

"As a council we will work with the company and trade unions to do everything we can to support the local communities and the workers who have lost their jobs and have had their lives turned upside down.”