York Potash Now Set To Compete With Boulby

York Potash Now Set To Compete With Boulby

  • TIM THORNE reports on a dramatic last-minute change of strategy on the part of York Potash Ltd in its bid to secure Planning Consent from the North York Moors National Park Authority.


Information on the website of the York Potash parent company, Sirius Minerals, seems to indicate the York Potash project is changing direction yet again.

Real Whitby readers may remember the original York Potash plan. The plan was to sink a couple of mineshafts to 1600m beneath the beautiful North York Moors National Park and mine Polyhalite. The Polyhalite was to be crushed and shipped to Teesside in slurry form, via an underground pipeline.

Initially, plans were to build a processing plant on Teesside and process the mineral into Sulphate of Potash (SOP), a higher quality fertiliser that can be sold at a premium price. The majority of fertiliser sold by the Cleveland Potash Boulby mine is Muriate of Potash (MOP).

Sirius Minerals has always stated that the York Potash project would not be in direct competition with Boulby.

Sirius Minerals spoke to the local press, farmers and shareholders and informed them all that the mineral was vital to UK food security. The UK SOP market is tiny compared to the amount of SOP that would be produced by the project, so it was assumed that Sirius Minerals would be exporting the majority of their SOP as it is particularly useful in dry and arid soils.

Sirius Minerals stated they may even decide to process the mineral produced by the York Potash project in the Middle-East, because it would be considerably cheaper to process the Polyhalite due to lower energy costs in that part of the world. It would also be closer to their target markets, increasing their profitability. That would mean the facility in Teesside would just be a loading facility with a drying plant attached.

In December 2012, the whole York Potash project moved in a different direction. The plan was still to mine Polyhalite and the mineral would still be moved to Teesside via the slurry pipeline, but after being dried out it would now be sold as a direct application fertiliser. Again, that would mean the facility in Teesside would just be a loading facility with a drying plant attached.

York Potash stated they may decide to process the mineral in the future, but given the energy costs in the UK it is doubtful it would be processed in the UK. Financing both a mine and a processing plant in the current financial climate is obviously too difficult, so they opted for the cheapest possible start-up costs.

Sirius Minerals again stated that the York potash project would not be in competition with Boulby.

Currently, Boulby mines mainly Sylvinite, another source of Muriate of Potash (MOP). MOP is a more profitable product to sell than Polyhalite, so it is expected that Cleveland Potash’s Boulby mine will concentrate on extracting Sylvinite for the foreseeable future. In 2011, Boulby was the first mine in the world to extract Polyhalite and it sells that product as Polysulphate. They currently sell around 100,000 tons of that product per annum.

A recent update to the Sirius Minerals website now indicates that the York Potash project is looking to compete directly with Boulby.

“The project will have significant expansion capacity beyond initial development with options to produce Sulphate of Potash (SOP) from the Polyhalite ore at a later stage.”

“In addition to Polyhalite, York Potash has vast quantities of Sylvite, a source of Muriate of Potash (MOP). The immediate focus for the project is on the development of the Polyhalite Resource.”

It seems pretty clear that Sirius Minerals now intend the York Potash project to compete directly with the Cleveland Potash’s Boulby mine. Perhaps this was their plan all along and they’ve not shown their hand until a month before the planning application is heard.

Other York Potash Articles:

York Potash Petition Faked

Potash project thrown into chaos

More NYMNPA York Potash Conflicted Interests

Tim Lawn you cant be Sirius by Private Eye magazine

From York Potash With Love


Help Real Whitby – Use Our Skimlinks To Shop

5 Responses to "York Potash Now Set To Compete With Boulby"

  1. James Irvine  June 30, 2013 at 7:39 am

    You must have one heck of an exciting life Timmy.

  2. DKP  June 30, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    Correct me if I am wrong, but surely the planning application is quite specific in regard to the substance to be mined – Polyhalite. Wouldn’t the mining of any other substance, be it bauxite, copper, coal, diamonds, sylvinite (or even marmite) require a separate planning consent? Or is it that Sirius cares not what it mines, just so long as it leaves holes to be filled in due course with whatever it is the want to bury?

  3. Daryl Smiler  June 30, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    Anyone who express surprise or concern when a company, large or small, tweaks its business strategy, or even changes it entirely as business conditions develop, is at least naive.

    Strategic planning in business terms is a very inexact science, despite what company chairman would like shareholders to believe. In reality, what ALL sucessful companies do is adjust their strategy to suit prevailing and anticipated market conditions. This may well mean selling turnips instead of apples even if the company owns an orchard. That’s what successful companies do.

    Successful companies must follow an ‘emergent strategy’ if they are to maximise profits or even survive.

    So don’t be surprised at subtle or even large changes in emphasis or direction.

    As far as planning permission is concerned everyone should be aware that a large local employer, that grows to become a major factor in local economic and employment terms, becomes very powerful politically.

    The simple message is if this mine gets approval, and becomes a success, expect anything!

  4. Vanda  July 3, 2013 at 4:45 am

    off topic but thought would be of interest:

    Potash mine drop-in events

    The company behind the proposed potash mine near Whitby is holding a pair of drop-in days to update residents of the progress of the plans.

    The informal sessions will be held by York Potash, on Thursday July 4 between 10am and 2.30pm at Hawsker and Stainsacre Parish Hall and on Friday July 5 between 12pm and 6.00pm at Sneaton Village Hall.

    The company claim the sessions are part its ongoing commitment to keeping local people informed of developments at the site, and members of the project team will be on hand to answer queries about the proposed development.

    A planning decision on the mine is not expected from the National Park Authority until 29 July.

    The proposed mine is the first of its kind for 40 years.

    Potash is an essential component for plant growth and without it food would not be able to be produced with the same l evel of efficiency and certainty.

    The proposed location for the mine access is an existing farm and commercial forestry block located approximately two kilometres south of Sneaton village and four kilometres south of Whitby.

    If the plans are approved, around 1,000 jobs would ultimately be created.
    For further information, call 0845 543 8964 or email info@ yorkpotash.co.uk.

  5. Peter Hofschröer  July 19, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    Here’s a thought.

    North Yorkshire needs new jobs.

    It is debatable if the potash scheme will provide sufficient long term jobs in the area without being detrimental to the vital tourism industry. But there is one largely unexploited local natural resource, which, if properly utilised, could provide environmentally-friendly development and long term, secure jobs. That resource is the endemic official corruption.

    What about arresting all the corrupt police officers, politicians and government officials and putting them in jail for life, which is what they deserve?

    Employment would be created in the building industry using local materials and local labour to build the many jails needed. The prison guards could be recruited locally, providing local jobs, and what job could be more secure than guarding lifers? A job for life, eh? And without a high skill level being required.

    And then decent honest local people could be employed to replace the police officers, politicians and government officials, so greatly reducing unemployment.

    Would that not work?


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whitby photography by glenn kilpatrick