A POTASH firm building a £2.2bn fertiliser mine has finalised a deal to buy a harbour site.

Sirius Minerals has taken ownership of land at Bran Sands, on the mouth of the River Tees.

The business had long identified the site as being crucial to operations, with the harbour due to handle the fertiliser polyhalite from Sirius’ Woodsmith Mine, based on the outskirts of Whitby.

The company plans to move its polyhalite underground from Yorkshire to Wilton, near Redcar, where it will be stored before being delivered to customers from the harbour.

Building work on Teesside is expected to start in 2019.

The company says the mine is expected to create more than 1,000 direct jobs and support a similar number in the supply chain, with production expected to get underway in late 2021.

Chris Fraser, Sirius Minerals’ chief executive, said: “The acquisition of Bran Sands represents another important step forward in the ongoing development of our project.

“Having our own deep-water port is a huge part of the proposition for our project, giving us access to a global distribution network.

“The life of the mine is expected to be over multiple generations, so the facilities that we will build here will provide jobs in and attract investment to Teesside for many years to come.”

Polyhalite is reputed for its potassium, magnesium, sulphur and calcium content that encourages strong crop growth.