Yorkshire Coast Mineral Association says it will be "tragic" if Sirius Minerals' mining project has to be scrapped

THE Yorkshire Coast Mineral Association today said it would be tragic if plans to build a giant mine in the North York Moors had to be scrapped due to lack of funding.

Sirius Minerals aims to create thousands of skilled jobs

The group has issued a statement offering its full support for Sirius Minerals' mine, which is expected to create thousands of skilled, long term jobs.

Earlier this week, the chief executive of Sirius Minerals said that a planned takeover from Anglo American was the only viable pathway forward for the company.

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Although he understood shareholders' disappointment with the planned offer from Anglo American, Chris Fraser warned that, if the takeover does not go ahead there is a "high probability" that Sirius will go into administration.

Last month, Anglo American officially submitted a £405m rescue bid for Sirius which has been struggling to raise financing for the project near Whitby which will support thousands of jobs in the region.

The Yorkshire Coast Mineral Association represents the mineral rights holders who are leasing their minerals to the project. In its statement, the group acknowledges that it has a vested interest in the mine becoming fully operational as a stable business.

The statement added: "But YCMA members are also members of the local community and can see the many benefits that the mine will bring to this part of North Yorkshire."

The group said it "fully acknowledged" the disappointment that shareholders who have backed the project will be feeling.

It continued: "Indeed, many of our members also invested and will be sharing the loss.

But the group added: "But now is the time to support the scheme so that the multiple benefits to the local community and national economy can be unlocked. It will be tragic if the future benefits of the project are left to wither on the vine."

"The Yorkshire Coast Mineral Association announces its full support for the proposed Sirius polyhalite mine in North Yorkshire and urges that the project must continue.

"It will bring many benefits to the Whitby and Scarborough area," the statement said. "There will be the direct benefits from newly created jobs and employment but also many indirect benefits to the wider community.

The statement added: "These will include increased work for local businesses serving the mine, an uplift in local spending power from those new jobs and the agreed investments to help protect the environment and habitats of the North York Moors National Park.

"The project will also benefit the national economy through export revenues and business taxation," the group said. "And in a world where climate change is an ever- increasing threat the mine has a role to play."

"Government has stated that a proportion of the farmland currently producing food must be turned over to woodland. This will mean that the remaining farmland will have to be managed and maintained to its optimum potential to feed an ever-growing world population.

"The fertiliser produced at Woodsmith Mine will play a crucial role in achieving this. Polyhalite fertiliser also has a lower carbon footprint than other forms of potassium fertiliser and its use will help contribute to meeting the net zero carbon target that Governments around the world are starting to set."

Last month, the boss of Anglo American said his firm had the capacity to take Sirius Minerals' products around the world and he wants the firm to be "part of the future of Yorkshire".

Mark Cutifani, chief executive of Anglo American, said that he and his firm saw huge potential in the Sirius mining project which aims to extract polyhalite from a mile below the North York Moors to use as fertiliser. He also said that his firm had the capacity, connections and personnel to take the product into global markets.

Anglo has bid 5.5p per share for Sirius, which is less than a quarter of the 22.4p valuation just a year ago.

Responding to shareholder concerns that Sirius should have held out for a higher offer, Mr Fraser added: "Our chairman has already summed it up well by acknowledging that the returns offered by the offer are not what either our shareholders or the board had previously hoped for.

"I completely understand that shareholders will be disappointed - as a shareholder so am I.

"But the board has made its recommendation in favour of the bid based on all of the information in front of it at the time. The reality is there is now a stark choice because we haven't been able to deliver the complete stage two financing.

"That means that if the takeover does not complete there is a high probability that Sirius will go into administration.

"In turn, that is likely to mean shareholders would lose all of their investment.

He added: "I see some people saying they want to vote no to hold out for a better deal, but I would urge these people to read the board's recommendations carefully and to seek professional financial advice.

"I also see people saying they want to vote against the acquisition to punish me and my team.

"This project stopping would be devastating for the people that work on sites from Teesside to Scarborough and also for the people and businesses that they in turn support.

"As disappointing as the price is, the acquisition by Anglo is the only pathway forward that safeguards the project and should see all the multi-generational benefits of this world class project being unlocked for the region and for the UK.