Industry veteran named as new Sirius board member

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SIRIUS Minerals, the company behind plans for a large potash mine in Yorkshire, has hired a new board member and secured an agreement with a major Chinese group.

Keith Clarke has been appointed as a non-executive director with immediate effect. Mr Clarke was chief executive of WS Atkins, the UK’s largest design and engineering consultancy for eight years to July 2011 and he previously held chief executive roles with Skanska UK and Kvaerner Construction Group.

It has also been announced that Sir David Higgins is stepping down from the board, following his recent appointment as chairman of HS2 and his current commitments with Network Rail.

Sir David said: “I will be sad to step down from the Sirius board but I will always be a strong supporter of the company and the huge commercial investment that York Potash represents for Yorkshire and the North East.

“Keith Clarke is well known to me and I’m confident he will be a great addition to the board.”

Russell Scrimshaw, the company’s chairman, said: “Keith brings a wealth of understanding in the areas of complex project approvals and construction management and is a passionate advocate of the environment and sustainable development.

He will be invaluable in this next phase of the company’s progress towards securing permission for and construction of the York Potash Project.”

Sirius also announced that it had made more progress in the marketing of polyhalite from its York Potash Project.

Sirius has entered into a memorandum of understanding for 500,000 tonnes per year with the Chinese company, Sichuan Agricultural Means Group. Chris Fraser, the managing director and chief executive of Sirius, said: “This is yet another demonstration of the global demand for polyhalite, the importance of the York Potash Project to the UK economy and the strong ties we are developing with China.”

Directors at Sirius Minerals recently finalised the deal to buy farmland near the village of Sneaton, to the south of Whitby, in the hope of creating a mine to exploit one of the world’s most extensive seams of potash, which is a key component of fertiliser.

The farm will remain occupied and operational while blueprints for the proposed mine go through the planning process.

The mine has been heralded as vital to boosting the Yorkshire coast’s economy, and it is expected to create more than 1,000 jobs and a further 4,000 jobs in the wider economy.

However, the scheme has been faced with a number of delays.

Mr Fraser said in October: “There is no greater evidence of our determination to achieve the approval and completion of this project than our purchase of Dove’s Nest farm, the proposed location of the mine.”