A GROWING worldwide demand for fertilisers is being met by the world's only polyhalite mine supplying 22 countries across five continents.

ICL Boulby is setting new records with sales figures for March reaching an all-time high. The company has recorded a 30 per cent sales increase in the previous top monthly total.

The mine, at Loftus, in east Cleveland, is the sole source of sales for polyhalite – a new organic fertiliser with readily available sulphur plus potassium, magnesium and calcium for better crops.

Products using the multi-nutrient mineral, marketed as Polysulphate, are boosting food production across the globe and the increase in demand means that, as well as stepping up output at the mine, it is a busy time for the ICL distribution terminal at Tees Dock.

Mark Wilson, terminal manager, said: "In March we handled 75 train loads coming from the mine and vessels transporting products to and from places as far afield as China, Brazil, Spain, Antwerp, Amsterdam and, nearer home, Southampton and Invergordon.

“In general the first quarter of the year has been extremely busy and demand for Boulby products is continuing.

"For example, in the last few days we have been loading 20,000 tonnes onto the bulk carrier Western Boheme for shipment to Brazil."

He added: “In common with the entire operation, switching from potash to polyhalite has posed significant challenges for our facilities at Tees Dock.

"For example, polyhalite is a heavier product which handles very differently from potash and we are investing significantly in upgrading our facilities and equipment to handle it without negative impacts on safety or the environment.”

ICL Boulby is the largest employer in the east Cleveland and the North York Moors National Park area.

In 2017, one million tonnes of polyhalite were mined at site, with the company setting ambitions to mine one million tonnes per year by 2020.

ICL Boulby vice president Andrew Fulton, said: “This year is very important for Boulby as we step up polyhalite production towards the target of a million tonnes a year by the end of 2020.

"The latest sales figures show the scale of the increasing demand for this ground-breaking mineral, which is only produced at Boulby, and which is benefitting growth and yield for farmers in so many different parts of the world.

“But what we actually do at Boulby is just part of the story. The efforts of our staff at Tees Dock, together with those involved in research and development, marketing and sales, is equally important in delivering our targets.”