A MASSIVE mining project in one of the most beautiful parts of North Yorkshire’s east coast has been brought a step closer after a £25.1 million deal.

York Potash Ltd has been sold to Sirius Minerals plc, the UK-based AIMS-listed mining business, along with its 600 sq kilometres of mineral rights, including coastal land between Scarborough and Whitby.

It is there, at a point where vast North Sea deposits of potash extend under the shore, that York Potash Ltd is planning test drilling and seismic surveys.

It is investigating the technical viability of introducing the first new deep potash mine in Britain for 40 years, and the deal with Sirius Minerals means that it will get cash backing.

After finding an exact location for the mine which would supply the UK’s fertilizer industry, York Potash will then investigate how it can minimise its effect on the environment.

York Potash Ltd and its new master, Sirius, recognise that the site will be controversial but say the project has the potential to create up to 5,000 jobs both directly and indirectly, with 1,500 jobs created alone during the development and construction phase and 1,000 people operating the mine once it starts yielding potash.

Chris Fraser, managing director and chief executive of Sirius, said: “Demand for potash is undergoing significant growth. Potash is an essential component in the fertilizers that we all rely on for cost-effective food production.

“The York Potash project, subject to successful testing, could become a new and strategically important potash mine for the UK. This will help the UK to meet its own needs, giving it security of supply and, importantly, creating a project of local, regional and national economic significance.”

He described the acquisition as “just one step on a longer journey” and said: “Essentially we also need to work closely and carefully with our stakeholders and the local community as part of the planning process.

“Sirius takes its responsibilities to local communities and to the environment extremely seriously and we will be implementing detailed programmes as we look to take things forward.”