THE COMPANY behind Britain's biggest potash mine, set to bring a thousand new jobs to the north, says the project remains "on time and on budget".

In its latest update Sirius Minerals said the company is pressing ahead with preparing sites at Woodsmith and Lockwood Beck for the giant potash mine close to Sneaton, near Whitby.

An announcement by the company said however, that its hope to accelerate the tunnelling activity is progressing, but further design and logistics work needs to be completed before the final decision to proceed can be made.

Chris Fraser, managing director and CEO of Sirius, said: "Activity levels at the Woodsmith Mine continue to increase every month and now step up significantly as we commence diaphragm walling activities.

" Our team, including both employees and contractors, continues to grow as we expand the company's execution capability and we are pleased with the progress being made and the positive attitude across the expanding team."

The statement adds: "Unfortunately, one recordable incident occurred in August during the drilling activities at the Woodsmith site. A thorough investigation has been undertaken from which additional safeguards and procedures have been implemented.

"The company is approaching one million man hours of total project activity and will have completed 12 months of construction activity after the fourth quarter."

Last year Sirius secured £900m investment to begin drilling. It is now looking for taxpayer backing, working on its stage 2 debt financing in talks with HM Treasury's Infrastructure and Projects Authority to guarantee its loans.

The company plans to raise £2.1bn of debt in 2018. In the coming decades the mine is predicted to deliver nearly £4bn in dividends to North Yorkshire landowners, including the Queen and the North York Moors National Park, in which the mine is located.

Sirius adds: "The company is in advanced negotiations with potential customers in multiple regions to expand its commercial reach into new markets."