North Yorkshire Sirius mine to go ahead after shareholders approve Anglo deal

The multi-billion fertiliser mine near Whitby is to go ahead after shareholders in Sirius Minerals voted to accept the £405m takeover offer from mining giant Anglo American.

The polyhalite mine near Whitby

Just over 80 per cent of Sirius shareholders approved the deal. Sirius needed approval from a majority of investors voting by number and by 75 per cent of those voting by value. Just under 20 per cent of shareholders by value voted against the deal.

Russell Scrimshaw, chairman of Sirius, said: “The positive outcome from today’s meeting secures a return for shareholders, and provides greater certainty in terms of safeguarding the project, protecting the jobs of our employees, and allowing the community, region and the UK to continue to benefit from the project.”

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Anglo American has said its intention is to create a significantly higher number of permanent jobs than previously planned, which has been welcomed by many in the area.

Almost half of Sirius' shares are held by 85,000 small investors, including 25,000 shareholders in Yorkshire and the North East. Around 10,000 investors live in the immediate region of the mine.

Anglo American has expressed sympathy for small shareholders who will receive just 5.5p per Sirius share, but said the project requires significant further capital. Local shareholders have seen the Sirius share price sink from 45p in 2016.

Anglo's finance director Stephen Pearce has said that North Yorkshire is a region with a proud mining heritage and Anglo is keen to develop this.

The offer follows a tough few months for Sirius, which was forced to go back to the drawing board in September when it failed to raise enough money to unlock the bank loans it needed to push ahead with its fertiliser project. It has been forced to slow down work on the mine in North Yorkshire.

The plan for the mine involves tunnelling under North York Moors National Park to exploit what Sirius has said is the world’s largest deposit of polyhalite, a multi-nutrient fertiliser.

When asked what guarantees he could give on jobs, Mr Pearce said: "Our intention is absolutely to continue to develop this project. That's why we think it adds great value to us as an organisation and to the region.

"What you will see as the project moves from the construction phase to the operating phase is the establishment of far more significant permanent jobs than the current situation in the development phase.

"We are quite excited by the opportunities that the project brings to the region and the employment that will follow."

The Northern Powerhouse Partnership has said Anglo’s £405m offer is welcome news for the area and will hopefully bring some certainty to the 1,200 staff working on the project across its sites including the Wood Smith Mine near Whitby and in Scarborough.

It said the project gives these communities – and particularly their young people – real opportunities they would otherwise have to leave the area to secure with the prospect of a further 2,500 high-skilled jobs being generated once the mine is up and running.