YORK Potash has announced it is scrapping its proposed pipeline to Teesside in favour of an underground transport system which will reduce construction impact by 70 per cent.

The company has spent the last three years working on plans for a £1 billion potash mine to be built in the North York Moors National Park, just outside Sneaton, near Whitby, with the promise of creating 1,000 direct jobs.

In its original planning application, submitted to the National Park authority in 2012 before being withdrawn last year, York Potash outlined designs for a sunken headed mine where the potash would be extracted and mixed into a slurry before being transported through a pipeline up the coast for processing at Wilton in Teesside.

Yesterday the company announced it intended to replace the previously proposed pipeline with a new underground Mineral Transport System (MTS) for carrying the potash, which is sold as plant fertiliser.

The revision has been made as part of York Potash’s re-evalution of its the mining scheme, as it looks to reduce the environmental impact ahead of submitting a new planning application by July.

The company says the MTS will reduce the construction footprint of the project’s operations by 70 per cent as the transport system will require about 60 hectares compared to the 350 hectares required for the original pipeline construction.

At the mine site, the building footprint will also be reduced by 70 per cent according to York Potash as the MTS results in the removal of buildings that would have been required for crushing and grinding, slurry preparation and pumping.

The MTS will consist of a series of linked conveyors running at about 120 to 360 metres underground.

York Potash says it plans to construct the MTS using tunnel boring machines, removing the need for widespread excavations which were a dominant feature of the pipeline construction.

Chris Fraser, managing director and chief executive of York Potash’s parent company, Sirius Minerals, said: “To be able to make such a positive change that increases project value at the same time as dramatically reducing construction and operational impact is an exciting outcome of our long-term commitment to sustainable development.

“The Mineral Transport System will use proven mining technology, minimising our impact at the surface and completely removing the need for any construction in designated and protected habitats while also reducing the number of buildings at our mine site.”

York Potash has said the MTS will also improve the value of the project by reducing its operating costs by about $10 a tonne, resulting in a 25 per cent reduction in the total operating cost estimate.