A MULTI-million-pound deal which could guarantee the future of more than 1,200 workers at a deep underground mine will bring some “certainty,” if a £405m bid is successful.

The potential rescue of thousands of jobs across Sirius Minerals plc’s sites in Whitby and Scarborough has also been described as a “massive vote of confidence” by the Tees Valley Mayor.

On Monday, it was revealed that Anglo American plc had agreed a significant deal to rescue the struggling North Yorkshire mining project, which exports fertilisers across the world.

The Northern Echo:

Sirius Minerals plc previously launched its first tunnel boring machine in Redcar Picture: STUART BOULTON

The main site, which is based at Woodsmith Mine near Whitby, was tipped to become a world leader producer of polyhalite,’ with the potential of up to 4,000 jobs across the North.

But after it last year failed to reach its fundraising target, which would have unlocked a bank loan worth £1.9bn to fund the project, bosses at the site decided to scale back its operations.

Russell Scrimshaw, chairman of Sirius Minerals plc, said: “Four months ago, following the setbacks in the bond market, we took the difficult decision to slow the pace of development of our project.

“We initiated a strategic review to reassess how best to unlock the long-term value for our shareholders, the community, the UK, and our customers all around the world.”

The Northern Echo:

Sirius Minerals plc previously launched its first tunnel boring machine in Redcar Picture: STUART BOULTON

Sirius Minerals plc previously searched to find a partner, who could provide funds in return for a minority stake, but Mr Scrimshaw said a full acquisition by Anglo American plc was the only “viable proposal.”

Henri Murison, Northern Powerhouse partnership director, said the announcement of the potential deal would bring some ‘certainty’ to staff working across its sites at the mine and at head office in Scarborough, if approved.

He said: “This offer from Anglo American which the Board of Sirius Minerals is recommending to its shareholders is welcome news for the area and will hopefully bring some certainty to the 1,200 staff working on the project across its sites including Wood Smith Mine near Whitby and in Scarborough.”

Two weeks ago, Sirius Minerals plc announced its shares were available to trade at 5.5p per share, worth just a fraction of what they were worth a year ago at 22.38p.

The potential purchase of shares by Anglo American plc is said to likely ‘wipe out’ cash invested by around 85,000 individuals, however the deal will only succeed if shareholders agree.

Mr Murison said: “The Sirius Minerals project gives these communities – and particularly their young people – real opportunities they would otherwise have to leave the area to secure with the prospect of a further 2,500 high-skilled jobs being generated once the mine is up and running.”

Describing the mining project as a “very visible part” of the northern economy, Mr Murison said Sirius Minerals had already invested more than £1bn into the project.

He said: “It will deliver substantial economic benefits to whole of the UK, including notably to the balance of payments, and if the government is genuinely serious about levelling up and narrowing the north-south divide, it will need to back privately led infrastructure projects like this in the future.”

On Friday, Northern Powerhouse minister Jake Berry and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak were both in the North-East for separate visits, but both promised further jobs across the region would be created under current government.

Last week, as the Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen learned that Anglo American plc had been tipped to invest £405m into the project, he described the potential deal as a “massive vote of confidence.”

The Northern Echo:

He said: “The news that Sirius is in advanced talks with Anglo American, one of the biggest mining companies in the world, is a massive vote of confidence in this unique and amazing project.

“I have always said that the scheme will be delivered and that local people here in Teesside, as well as further afield in Yorkshire, would feel the huge benefits of this truly transformational project.

“Small and medium sized businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and employ tens of thousands of people in the Tees Valley.”