Sirius Minerals says it is on time and on schedule

Sirius Minerals, the company behind the £3.2bn polyhalite mine near Whitby, said it is on track to achieve its first polyhalite production in 2021 and construction of its North Yorkshire polyhalite project remains on schedule.

The Red Arrows flying over Sirius Minerals exploration drilling rig at its North Yorkshire polyhalite project

Sirius reiterated its expectation for Stage 2 financing to be completed before the end of September.

The group said construction is advancing well and the company remains on target to achieve first polyhalite and commercial production on time and in line with its cost schedule.

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Chris Fraser, CEO and managing director of Sirius, said: “The successful raising of US$825m (£653m) of funding during the quarter marked the completion of the first part of our stage 2 financing.

"We are making good progress with the remaining components of our stage 2 financing package, which we expect to complete by the end of September this year in line with guidance, and which will enable us to bring our multi-nutrient POLY4 product to our customers to meet the expanding needs of the global agriculture industry.”

Analyst Yuen Low at Shore Capital said: "Construction of the company’s paradigm-shifting North Yorkshire polyhalite project in England remains on track to achieve first polyhalite and commercial production 'on time and in line' with its cost schedule."

Sirius said it is on target to complete the construction of its foreshafts by the year end to enable commencement of excavation of the main shaft.

The excavation of the 35-metre diameter service shaft foreshaft to 45 metres was completed in the first quarter of 2019, enabling commencement of the excavation of the inner-main shaft.

The main shaft has now been excavated to 85 metres below ground level, using conventional excavation techniques.

Mr Low said: "Excitingly, the first of two Shaft Boring Roadheaders (SBR) is due to arrive on-site in August 2019 and should be fully installed in the Service Shaft foreshaft by December 2019."

Production shaft works are on target to complete the construction of the foreshaft and excavation of the main shaft to 120 metres by the year end.

Sirius said the SBR for the production shaft is currently being erected in Germany and will be undertaking various cutting optimisation tests prior to being dismantled and shipped to the Woodsmith Mine in North Yorkshire.

Sirius signed a major supply agreement with Indian Farmers Fertilisers Cooperative (IFFCO) last month.

IFFCO's primary business is the manufacturing and marketing of fertilisers and it is in the top 100 of India's Fortune 500 group of companies.

It is one of the largest co-operative societies in the world, with over 36,000 member cooperatives and access to over 55 million Indian farmers.

The agreement is for an 11-year term, with a 10-year extension option by mutual agreement.

Volumes will ramp up to one million tonnes per annum in year eight, with an option to increase this to 1.25 million tonnes per annum.

India is one of the top three fertiliser markets in the world with a total nutrient consumption of around 30 million tonnes per annum. The demand for fertilisers has been growing steadily due to increasing demand for food as the country's population increases.

With the need to increase productivity per hectare, Sirius said multi-nutrient products like its POLY4 are well suited to Indian agriculture and soils.