North York Moors potash mine ready by 2021, company says
A £2.4bn potash mine on the North York Moors will be operational within the next 5 years, its developers said.
Sirius Minerals, a fertilizer producer, hopes to start preparatory building work at the site near Whitby shortly, with the mine opening in 2021.
A 23-mile (37km) tunnel will be built, so minerals can be transported to a processing plant on Teesside.
The company claims it will create more than 1,000 jobs, but opponents said it will damage the landscape and wildlife.
The term "potash" is used to describe a range of minerals containing potassium, with the company mining polyhalite.
Plans include building a minehead at Dove's Nest Farm, Sneaton, with shafts 4,921ft (1,500m) deep.
It aims to initially produce 10 million tonnes of fertilizer per annum, rising to 20 million tonnes subject to council approval.
Chris Fraser, managing director of Sirius Minerals, said the mine will create a "world leader in the fertilizer industry".
He said: "In delivering this project we can create thousands of jobs in North Yorkshire and Teesside, deliver billions of pounds of investment to the UK and put the country at the forefront of the multi-nutrient fertilizer industry."
In June, the North York Moors National Park Authority approved plans for the mine, with "stringent conditions" for its construction and working.
Andy Wilson, chief executive of the authority, previously said the "economic impact of the mine outweighed the environmental harm".
The Campaign for National Parks said the mine was "completely incompatible with national park purposes" and the promised economic benefits would "never justify the huge damage" to the area's landscape, wildlife and tourism.
An open letter, signed by 29 groups including the RSPB and the Campaign for National Parks, had urged the rejection of plans for the mine.