Sirius Wins Delay to Ruling on Potash Mine in National Park

Sirius Minerals Plc said a ruling on its application to build a $1.9 billion potash mine in a U.K national park has been delayed after the company sought more time to address concerns the project will harm the environment.

Sirius asked the North York Moors National Park Authority to delay a decision on the mine while the company responds to questions about the mine’s impact, it said today. The park authority said it had “agreed reluctantly” to the request.

“The decision to seek the deferral is specifically to allow the company time to address issues relating to European habitat legislation and robustly deal with the questions over the work completed by consultants on the environmental assessments,” Sirius said in a statement.

The mining company, which is seeking to start building the U.K.’s second operating potash mine this year in the park, needs financing and government approvals for the project. Today’s deferral is likely to “extend the project time frame” for York Potash, as the venture is known, it said.

AMEC, consultants to the park authority for the project, released a report that Sirius said July 16 contained “a number of negative statements.” The company said it disagreed with “large parts” of the report and was preparing a detailed response to the concerns raised.

The park authority said today it will defer consideration of York Potash’s planning application for a third time. The further delay will be “hugely disruptive for the authority as well as costly,” it said in a statement on its website. Sirius didn’t request a new date for the ruling, it said.

Sirius gained 4.7 percent to 22.5 pence by the close in London trading after earlier falling as much as 20 percent.

York Potash holds the world’s largest estimated resource of polyhalite, with 2.7 billion metric tons of the potash material. The U.K.’s only potash mine, Boulby, is north of York. Potash is a form of potassium used to strengthen plant roots and protect against drought.