It’s almost a year since Britain’s last deep coal mine Kellingley Colliery closed, but it looks like a Potash mine is to open on the outskirts of Whitby, North Yorkshire, funded in part by the local community.

To raise money for the mine its owners, Sirius Minerals, sold shares in the mine with some being bought by people living close to the mine. One share holder, who owns a fish and chip shop in Whitby, said he saw this as investing in the local area. It is believed the mine will generate up to 1000 jobs when it is in full production. Another investor in Britain’s latest mine is reported to be Australia’s richest woman.

Potash is a term given to a range of minerals containing the chemical Potassium, with this mine mining a substance called Polyhalite. Sirius plan to start producing 10 million tonnes of fertilizer per annum from the site and eventually reaching a full production of 20 million tonnes. Building work may start on the site situated on Dove’s Nest Farm, Sneaton, near Whitby North Yorkshire, in January 2017. Once in production the mined Potash will be sent via a 23 mile underground tunnel to a processing plant on Teesside.
In June this year North York Moors National Park Authority approved plans for the mine but said there were “Stringent conditions” for its working and construction. On 24th November 2016 Sirius confirmed that the £1bn funding to begin construction of the mine had been secured. This was done in part by Sirius selling shares and bonds in the Potash mine. Many of the shares were offered to local residents and businesses situated close to the mine.

If selling the shares to locals was a PR campaign to get them on side by Sirius then it has been a successful one for them with many locals investing in their community’s future. So the question for other mineral firms wanting to open mines in the future (and maybe even coal mines once again), is this; could selling shares to the local community be the way to get them on side as well as financing the operation?

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