Sirius Minerals PLC: York Potash Project Approvals – Status Update
July 7, 2014 (Source: Sirius Minerals PLC) — The Directors of Sirius Minerals Plc (AIM: SXX, OTCQX: SRUXY) (“Sirius” or the “Company”) are pleased to provide an update on the York Potash Project planning approval process.
The Company has decided to submit the application for its mine at the end of September 2014 to align with the submission of the application for the mineral transport system (“MTS”). The Company considers that there are a number of planning and environmental advantages for taking this approach and believes that the move provides for a more robust determination process for the two main applications for the York Potash Project (“the Project”). The Company and officers of the North York Moors National Park Authority (“NYMNPA” or “the authority”) have also been working together to agree an informal pre-application ‘Planning Position Statement’.
Chris Fraser, Managing Director and CEO of Sirius, commented:
“We have had productive and wide ranging pre-application engagement with the authority officers and advisers over the past 9 to 12 months and aligning the submissions should make the process more straightforward and therefore is beneficial to all parties.
“We believe this is the most productive way forward, particularly as this doesn’t impact the overall project schedule. In the meantime, the common ground we have currently reached with the authority officers provides very clear guidance as to detail that the applications need to include at the point of submission.”
Informal position statement
The Company has agreed a set of positions with the authority officers in a jointly developed statement, as part of the pre-application advice being offered under the Planning Performance Agreement (“PPA”). This includes a number of areas of common ground on the issues identified to date from the pre-application discussions, and also provides a framework for the ongoing discussion of remaining issues. The Company believes it can address these remaining issues through the provision of further information or the agreement of appropriate mitigation strategies where appropriate.
A copy of the position statement is available on the Project website.
A number of draft documents have been provided to the authority since the withdrawal of the previous application, including submissions on planning policy, the market for polyhalite, the ability to develop at alternative sites, and draft Environmental Impact Assessment (“EIA”) chapters. These have been reviewed by the authority and its advisers under the terms of the PPA.
Although a number of draft EIA chapters have been submitted for pre-application review, there remain a number of detailed submissions on environmental impacts and mitigations that still need to be made. These will be discussed further with the authority officers as draft EIA chapters are submitted for review.
The PPA has enabled the Company to provide much needed funding support to the authority to enable its officers and advisers to undertake detailed analysis of these submissions and to provide advice and feedback to the Company.
Alignment of key applications
By aligning the application submission dates, the EIA for these components of the Project can be fully aligned and based on identical information. This is particularly important for both the Cumulative Impact Assessment and the European Habitats Regulations Assessment process. With the mine application preceding the MTS, two cumulative impact assessments would have had to have been completed, one at the time of the mine application and one two months later with the MTS application. By aligning the dates, the authority and Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council (which will determine part of the MTS application) will have identical environmental information across the whole Project.
The Company intends to submit the majority of the application information for the mine in draft before the end of July to enable the authority to undertake as much analysis as possible in advance of the formal application being made.
The authority will endeavour to provide a determination on the applications within 16 weeks of the applications being submitted in line with development procedures and statutory determination times. On the basis that the applications are submitted as expected at the end of September 2014, the 16 week period would run through to January 2015.
About Sirius Minerals Plc
Sirius Minerals is a globally diversified potash development company. Its primary focus is to bring on stream major potash mining facilities through the acquisition and development of projects overlying recognized potash deposits. Today it holds properties in the United Kingdom (North Yorkshire) and the United States (North Dakota). Incorporated in 2003, Sirius Minerals’ shares are traded on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM market. Its shares are also traded in the United States on the OTCQX through a sponsored ADR facility. Further information on the Company can be found at www.siriusminerals.com.
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