Potash producer confident of success

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POTASH miner Sirius Minerals said it has made good progress at a third drill hole, with a second rig due to arrive next month to complete a total of 10 in North Yorkshire.

Sirius plans to mine huge deposits of potash – salts which contain potassium – from beneath the North Yorkshire coast.

It is drilling temporary holes to extract cores of material, which it hopes will confirm rich mineral deposits in the area.

The company said its SM3 hole in Raikes Lane, near Sneatonthorpe, North Yorkshire, reached its final casing depth in just 10 days. That compared with 40 days for SM2.

Chris Fraser, managing director and chief executive of Sirius, said: “We are delighted with the progress on SM3. This has helped us to claw back some of the time and budget we had to put aside after the experience at SM2.”

Potash is a key ingredient in fertiliser as well as a number of industrial processes including soap, glass and ceramic manufacturing.

“Every time we get cores out of the ground we add to our resource,” said a Sirius spokesman.

Sirius’s drilling contractor has also commissioned a second coring rig, which is now complete and undergoing final maintenance and equipment checks.

It hopes the rig will arrive from southern Europe by the end of March and the rig should help speed up completion of its York Potash Project drilling programme, added the company.

Sirius plans to run both coring rigs simultaneously, with the intention of sinking up to 10 drill holes as part of its plans to develop a new deep mine between Whitby and Scarborough.

It intends to submit a planning application for the mine in September, and subject to achieving permission, could begin construction in 2013 and start production in 2015.

The company says the mine will create about 5,000 jobs.

If successful it would be the first UK potash mine to open for about 40 years and would be expected to have a lifespan of about 50 years.