SIRIUS Minerals, the company behind a proposed potash mine in North Yorkshire, has signed a marketing agreement with Swiss fertiliser distribution company Keytrade AG.

Keytrade will market up to 1.75 million tonnes per year of polyhalite, known as potash, produced at the York Potash Project.

This is is scheduled to be based near Whitby if the scheme obtains planning permission. Initial production is currently scheduled to begin from late 2016 with a first phase production target of five million tonnes per year.

Keytrade will market the potash, which is used as fertiliser, in Central and South America, excluding Brazil, and South-East Asia, as well as specific countries in Europe and Africa.

Sirius Minerals confirmed it had a cash balance of £24 million in the business as of January 31, and no immediate plans to raise further funding for the £1 billion project through a placement of shares.

It said: “The development of the world-class York Potash Project will require multiple financings and these will be carried out when required, when opportunities present themselves and always with the best value to shareholders in mind.” Some 4,225 of them live in the north-east, Yorkshire and Humberside, representing about 23 per cent of the company’s 18,000 shareholders.

The company said it was making “excellent progress” towards its goals and continually reviewed options on how best to finance the rapid development of the York Potash Project.