Opposition to Sirius Minerals $3bn potash project in national park builds up

Opposition to Sirius Minerals $3bn potash project in national park builds up

Aerial image from north of York potash mine site. (Courtesy of Sirius Minerals)

Dozens of environment and amenity organizations sent Wednesday a letter to Brittan’s North York Moors National Park Authority urging it to reject an application to build the world’s largest potash mine underneath.

Sirius Minerals (LON:SXX) proposed $3.15 billion project, in the works since 2011, includes the construction of a 37-km (23 miles) tunnel to a processing plant through one of the U.K.’s most protected landscapes.

With promises of thousands of jobs and billions in exports, Sirius has managed to attract local support, but the powers that be don’t seem so easy to persuade.

Last week, the Park Authority issued a 229-page report that said the mine’s economic benefits do not outweigh the harm it may cause. However, the body did not make any recommendation about the proposed mine.

Sirius has “not fully addressed or met the policy requirements of the major development test and has not demonstrated that the proposal represents exceptional circumstances or is in the public interest,” the report said.

Opposition to Sirius Minerals $3bn potash project in national park builds up

North York Moors National Park (Source: WikiMedia Commons).

Now 29 environment and non-profit groups, led by the Campaign for National Parks, are claiming the proposed mine is not only “a huge threat” to the North York Moors, but that the authorities’ decision is “a critical test of the protection provided to National Parks under national planning policy.”

They add the development would ruin the park’s tranquillity and could deter the tourists that are a source of income and jobs. The company also faces objections from Cleveland Potash, a rival that has mined potash at the nearby Boulby Mine for decades, and believes its interests could be jeopardized.

However, chief executive Chris Fraser has sustained the mine stands "up to scrutiny," adding he was determined to pursue the plan.

Sirius is expected to hear by June 30 whether it will be allowed to mine polyhalite, a type of potash fertilizer, from the deposit located under the national park.