UK Government questions $2.7bn potash project

The UK Ministry of Defence has cast a doubt over London-listed Sirius Minerals (LON:SXX)  plans to develop a vast potash mine, posed to be one of the world’s largest deposits of the commodity.

According to FT.com (subs. required) authorities fear the mine could interfere with the UK missile early warning system.

Since the $2.7 billion (£1.7bn) York Potash project will be located in a national park in the North Yorkshire county, there are also other concerns, including subsidence, vibration, frequency interference and the impact on water reservoirs.

RELATED: UK to join race for potash supply

Sirius’ York mine will employ about 1,800 workers during construction and generate 1,000 permanent jobs once opened. But the company, says FT.com, has only until April 3 to prove North York Moors park planners the mine will not affect the park or the Fylingdales listening station.

Fylingdales hosts a distinctive pyramid, which contains radar that is part of the UK-US missile defence system, along with stations in Alaska and Greenland.

North York Moors park  authorities are expected to announce their decision by mid-May this year.

Thanks to its central role in the production of fertilizer and thus in food production, potash is one of the crucial ingredients of the world economy. Little known outside the commodities world until 2007, it got increased media attention when the price of agricultural commodities boomed, sparking fears over food security and highlighting the dominance of the market by two supply consortiums, Belarus's BPC and Canadian group Canpotex.