20 May 2013 13:44 [Source: ICIS news]
CHICAGO (ICIS)--Sirius Minerals has received objections from Natural England and the Environment Agency on the development of its potash mine in north Yorkshire, the UK, the company said in a press release on Monday.
The objections were submitted as part of North York Moors National Park Authority's (NYMNPA) statutory consultation process for the project.
Sirius believes it can address the four key issues raised by the two groups – the first of which includes an objection on landscape grounds, given the proposed location of the mine within the National Park.
Sirius Minerals said the landscape assessment completed by the company shows there will be "no long-term significant impact" with mitigation measures put in place, and the project design “demonstrates best practice for sustainable development”.
The second objection relates to drainage plans for the site. The company said this issue can be satisfied by a detailed plan which ensures mining operations will not negatively affect a nearby stream.
The two remaining objections primarily relate to general hydrological issues and the possible impact on an area of protected moorland to the west of the mine site, the company said.
Sirius said it has conducted a detailed hydrological risk assessment on the project, but may need to conduct more surveys to understand the possible impact of the construction outside this specific habitat area.
"We remain confident in our submission and believe that detailed planning conditions can satisfy these objections and provide the reassurance of either no impact on neighbouring moorland, or achieving an improvement, without the need for unnecessary delays to the determination of this important project,” said Chris Fraser, Managing Director and CEO of Sirius Minerals.
The company said it will hold detailed discussions with the two organisations over the coming days, aiming to seek a resolution to these issues ahead of the 2 July NYMNPA meeting which will decide on the company’s application for the project.
Sirius believes a detailed set of planning conditions will ensure that the groundwater levels in neighbouring land are monitored and maintained, to ensure there is no negative impact on the ecological environment.
The company also said it will fund a detailed management plan which binds the project to maintain and improve the quality of the area for the duration of mining activity.
However, Sirius said any request for additional survey work is “unreasonable” in planning terms, and it will not provide any more information than has been already collected.
The company is also meeting officials from the UK Ministry of Defence this week to resolve the ministry’s concerns over the development of the mine, as it could interfere with the radar base at RAF Fylingdales.
The North York Moors National Park holds the world’s largest estimated resource of polyhalite, which is used to make sulphate of potash.
Earlier this month, tests conducted by the York Potash Project indicated that the mine can produce more potash than earlier estimated. The mineral resource is now estimated at 2.66bn tonnes at an average grade of 85.7% polyhalite compared to 2.2bn tonnes at 82.4% polyhalite.
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