Hundreds of jobs to be axed at Boulby potash mine
Hundreds of jobs are set to be axed at a North East potash mine.
Cleveland Potash, at Boulby, has begun consultation with about 220 workers, with a further 140 contractor roles to be cut as well.
Parent company ICL UK described the move as "painful" and warned a similar number of jobs could go in 2018.
Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop described it as "devastating news".
ICL UK cited a "reduction in the level of economically-feasible potash reserves at Boulby, which the company estimates will be depleted by 2018".
The plant, which currently employs about 1,100 people, will produce another fertiliser, called Polysulphate.
Peter Smith, executive vice President-Potash of ICL, said: "In recent months we encountered geological problems which have affected previously high-yielding areas of the mine.
'Blow to the community'
"In addition, our exploration programme, validated by independent consultants, confirmed further geological difficulties, which means that we have only a very limited level of economically feasible potash reserves.
"The reality of our potash reserves running out by 2018 means that we must develop a new business strategy if we are to continue mining at Boulby."
ICL UK said it would invest £20m this year in the site's infrastructure with a potential further £20m to increase production of Polysulphate from an estimated 200,000 tonnes this year to one million tonnes by 2020.
Mr Blenkinsopp said: "It's truly devastating news for those miners and their families.
"It just seems to be everywhere you look, we are seeing huge amounts of redundancy in our industry and it's surely unprecedented, and all within the borough of Redcar and Cleveland."
Anna Turley, Labour MP for Redcar, said: "This is yet another blow to the community, who have already been subjected to thousands of job losses from the closure of SSI in Redcar in the last few weeks."