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Labour urges government intervention to save potash mine implementation

LABOUR warned today that the government will not be forgiven if it fails to secure the future of a huge potash mine planned for the north-east of England.

The project to build the mine in Teesside has been thrown into jeopardy after the company behind the project, Sirius Minerals, cancelled plans today to raise £403 million to secure its future.

Sirius said “market conditions” — including uncertainty over Brexit and lack of government support — had created instability for the mine’s future.

Local Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald, who is also shadow transport secretary, called for state intervention.

He said: “This mad administration, propelling the country to the economic cliff-edge, seems determined to do everything it can to destroy the industrial base of Teesside.

“They’re keen enough to give tax breaks to gambling bankers but won’t lift a finger to help our industries.

“Sirius is critical to Teesside’s future and if government stands aside, as they did with the Redcar blast furnace, they will never be forgiven.”

The announcement led to a 63 per cent fall in Sirius’s shares in early trading at the London Stock Exchange. Sirius’s management has announced a six-month review, which it hopes will set out the future for financing the mine.

The mine was set to extract the mineral salt polyhalite, a natural fertiliser used regularly in agriculture. It was expected to create more than 1,000 jobs, with an opening scheduled for early 2021.

Unite national officer Ian Woodland said: “This is a vital project for a region which is crying out for new investment and jobs.

“The government’s failure to support this project is a major reason why Sirius Minerals has had to put its plans on hold and look at alternative ways to finance its project.

“The government must now rectify its error, support the scheme and help to generate jobs on Teesside, where they are desperately needed.

“In order to ensure that this vitally needed project sees the light of day it is imperative that Sirius Minerals works in co-operation with Unite going forward, so that we can create first-class, highly motivated, unionised jobs.”


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