FERTILISER mining firm Sirius Minerals has struck a major deal to export its future product through Redcar’s former steel port.

Sirius, which plans to build a giant mine on the North Yorks Moors, has signed a materials handling agreement and a 30-year land lease with Redcar Bulk Terminal (RBT) - the facility’s biggest deal since the closure of SSI steelworks dealt a hammer blow to the area.

The deal will boost the traffic through the terminal which has been running below capacity since its biggest client, the SSI works, was shut down in 2015.

The contract will lead to up to 10 million tonnes of polyhalite, a mineral used as a fertiliser, shipped through the terminal each year RBT, in a move Sirius says will cut construction and expenditure risks for its £3bn project.

The company is building a £2.2bn mine on the outskirts of Whitby and a Teesside processing plant, creating up to 2,500 jobs at peak production. Sirius plans to move the polyhalite from Yorkshire to Wilton, near Redcar, on an underground transport system,

Redcar Bulk Terminal will provide port and ship loading services for the next 10 years under the agreement.

The two companies have also signed a long-term lease, for land near the terminal to be used as storage for Sirius Mineral’s finished product, and the miner will invest in new ship loading equipment and systems at the facility.

Chris Fraser, managing director and chief executive of Sirius, said the deal “reduces the complexity” of its construction programme and “ultimately helps to simplify the project’s stage two financing plan” which is being finalised over the coming months.

He said: “By working with a local partner, we can develop our project and also deliver benefits to an existing established business in the Tees Valley.

“The RBT facility has been under-utilised since the closure of the steel works and this agreement will ultimately help us deliver tremendous economic benefits for the region.”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Sirius’ multi-billion-pound mine project will be transformational for our area and the local supply chain. I welcome this news, which is another vote of confidence in the Tees Valley and which will help to deliver our ambitious vision to create jobs and boost our economy.”

Councillor Sue Jeffrey, Leader of Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, said: “This announcement is great news and is further confirmation that Sirius is here for the long-term. It’s also a further a demonstration of the jobs and growth potential at South Tees.

“I would like to wish everyone involved the best of luck as this crucial project takes another important step forward.”