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Sirius Minerals part of Government's China delegation to boost trade
A POTASH company aiming to build a £1.5bn mine hopes to expand its global reach after visiting China to strengthen its order book.
Sirius Minerals, the firm behind the York Potash Project, was part of the Government's East Asian trade mission to bolster its position across the international potash market.
The company wants to mine polyhalite, a form of the fertiliser potash, under the North York Moors National Park, near Whitby.
It already has deals with Chinese firms to export millions of tonnes of the product every year.
The mine plans, which the company says will create at least 1,000 jobs, have been deferred until next year after Sirius requested more time to deal with environmental concerns.
However, bosses say the China visit proved its plans were viable across the world, and remain confident its mine proposals will be passed by planning officials next year.
They also played down worries over the future of the worldwide potash industry after the largest fertiliser company, PotashCorp of Saskatchewan, revealed plans to shed hundreds of jobs in response to low market prices.
Chris Fraser, Sirius' managing director, said: “The long-term demand for potash remains very strong.
“That is particularly so in emerging economies like China, where the middle-class population continue to grow rapidly.
“This has been demonstrated by the commitments for our future product and we were delighted to be part of the Government delegation that will help to develop trade relationships.
“The comparison to PotashCorp isn’t really valid because they focus on different products.
“It is well-known that they follow a price over volume strategy, so cut backs in their higher cost operations is expected to aid in supporting better short term pricing.”
Earlier this year, Sirius revealed agreement with companies in China, which will see it supply millions of tonnes of polyhalite a year if the mine is approved.
The contracts include deals with Sinoagri, one of China's largest fertiliser distributors, for 500,000 tonnes of polyhalite every year in a ten-year partnership, with fellow Chinese firm Yunnan TCT Yong-Zhe ready to receive one million tonnes of polyhalite every year from 2017.
Deals are also in place for thousands of tonnes to be sent to Latin America and Africa every year.
Mr Fraser added: “Our detailed environmental and study work to support the planning applications for the York Potash Project is continuing.
“We are looking forward to re-submitting information next year because the project can play a key role in creating thousands of jobs in the local economy.”
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