Sirius Minerals has received approval from the North York Moors National Park Authority for the underground mine and mineral transport system that are the key components of its proposed York potash project in North York, England. Sirius expects final details of the project approval process to be completed by the end of September. The company is currently working with its financial advisers to arrange financing for the project.

A driller at work on Sirius Minerals’ York potash project in the U.K. (Photo: Sirius Minerals)A driller at work on Sirius Minerals’ York potash project in the U.K. (Photo: Sirius Minerals)

Planning for the York potash project has previously called for development of a 13-million-mt/y underground mining operation to be constructed in two phases. The first phase would produce 6.5 million mt/y, followed by expansion to 13 million mt/y over a period of served years. However, a definitive feasibility study (DFS) now nearing completion is looking at ways of increasing the initial installed infrastructure capacity to 10 million mt/y, with a potential future doubling to 20 million mt/y. The DFS will also include up-to-date capital cost estimates for the project.

The York potash project has a JORC-compliant probable mineral reserve of 250 million mt of 87.8% polyhalite. The deposit is contained within the Permian Zechstein evaporites, which have been mined extensively for potash and halite in both the United Kingdom and northwestern Europe. The project’s saleable products will take the form of powdered or granulated polyhalite, which can be used as a directly applied fertilizer for commercial farming, including organic farming.

Project development includes an underground transport system to convey mined polyhalite 37.5 km from the mine site to materials handling and shipping facilities at the port of Teesside. This system replaces a previous proposal for a slurry pipeline system and is essentially a tunnel at depths of 120 m to 360 m that will contain linked conveyor belts.

Mined polyhalite will be brought up to a depth of 360 m below surface, where it will be loaded directly onto a conveyor belt. The conveyor tunnel will be constructed through a stable geological sequence that comes to the surface at Teesside. The tunnel will be below the water table and will follow a route similar to that of the previously proposed slurry pipeline.