THE COMPANY behind a new fertiliser mine, set to bring a thousand new jobs to the north, says the project is currently "on time and on budget".

Sirius Minerals also said the company is talking to potential customers around the world about the new potash mine near Whitby, and said interest was high from global operators in the new venture.

An announcement by the company said "significant development" had been made on the site since January 2017, "with latest cash flow forecasts indicating that the Group has sufficient assets to meet its planned liabilities as they fall due until 2019".

Chris Fraser, managing director and chief executive, said: "We are continuing detailed dialogue with commercial partners around the world, as interest in future supplies remains strong."

In a statement released last week, the group said it would conduct a second stage of fundraising next year "in order to raise sufficient further funds to complete development of the Project and reach commercial production, which will ultimately allow the Group to generate sufficient cash to sustain itself as a going concern for the foreseeable future".

The report also showed the firm made a £14.7m operating loss in the six months to June 30, which was higher than the £4.7m a year ago.

However, officials say the higher number reflects a rise in activity on its project, which will extract the fertiliser polyhalite - or potash - which is reputed for encouraging strong crop growth, with production expected to get underway in late 2021.

Chris Fraser, managing director and CEO of Sirius, said: "The half year has been marked by excellent progress on the development of Woodsmith Mine and associated infrastructure. With highways and enablement works completed, and site preparation into the latter stages, we eagerly anticipate the commencement of shaft sinking activities."

Mr Fraser also said the company was expanding its research and development work, to "support customers and farmers in the years to come".