How the former CEO of Sirius bagged £1.3m in bonuses

The former CEO of Sirius Minerals received £1.3m in bonuses from the mining company, which was then acquired by Anglo American in a cut-price takeover.

A tunnel at the mine.
A tunnel at the mine.

Chris Fraser bagged nearly £900,000 in bonus share payments and was awarded a further £417,000 performance bonus for 2019, Companies House filings show.

Former finance director Thomas Staley received payment for his shares of nearly £600,000. On top of this, he picked up a performance bonus of £279,000.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

The plan for the mine involves tunnelling under North York Moors National Park to exploit a large deposit of polyhalite, a multi-nutrient fertiliser.

Mining giant Anglo American acquired Sirius in May for a cut price of 5.5p per share after the business failed to raise enough funds to keep the fertiliser mine project alive.

It saw 85,000 small investors, including 25,000 shareholders in Yorkshire and the North East, lose out.

Local shareholders saw the Sirius share price sink from 45p in 2016.

Following the takeover, the company was renamed Anglo American Woodsmith.

Anglo American said the decisions on remuneration were taken by the remuneration committee of the board of Sirius, prior to the completion of the acquisition and is in line with the remuneration policy approved by 80 per cent of Sirius’ shareholders at the May 2018 AGM.

Both Mr Fraser’s and Mr Staley’s performance bonuses could have been much higher but failure to raise enough finance to continue development meant they missed out.

A spokesman for Anglo American said: “This element of the 2019 bonus clearly was not achieved and therefore the bonus relating to this objective was zero.

“Their total awards represented a 12 per cent and 8 per cent reduction respectively compared to the previous year.”

Mr Fraser and Mr Staley are still with the company, holding the position of CEO and chief financial officer, respectively, of Anglo American’s Crop Nutrients business.

The impact of Covid-19 on the project’s development has been limited due to the successful implementation of appropriate health measures, Anglo American said.

The workforce now stands at just under 1,000 at the mine, with more expected to be added later in the year.

Gareth Edmunds, external affairs director for the Woodsmith Project, said: “After a brief pause at the beginning of the outbreak, we’ve been able to continue construction under new enhanced operating procedures based on and in some areas exceeding government guidelines.

“We remain vigilant of the risk and will continue to do all we can do to keep everyone safe.

“It is important for the area that this project gets built and that we continue to deliver the jobs and opportunities for local businesses that are needed now more than ever.”

Anglo American is building two one-mile deep mine shafts near Whitby to access a vast 2.3 billion tonne deposit of the mineral polyhalite, which will be sold around the world as a natural fertiliser.

The underground mine will be connected to a 23 mile long tunnel, which will transport the ore to Teesside for processing and shipping.

The tunnelling operation has reached 4.5 miles so far and continues to progress well. At the mine site, a giant mine shaft construction machine is currently being assembled and is expected to start excavating later this year.