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Sirius Minerals – New Threat to Planning Permission

By Tom Winnifrith | Friday 17 May 2013


Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from ShareProphets). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.


Whilst AIM Cesspit listed Sirius Minerals (SXX) is keen to issue an RNS every time there is good news on its planning application to build a vast mine on the North York Moors it seems rather less keen to broadcast the bad news. So I guess that is my job.

Last week I revealed how an independent study cast doubts on the economic need for the project – something you can read here.

Today I am grateful to a reader in the Grim North who alerts me to the headline in the Whitby Gazette which is now on my list of must read publications.

The headline screams “New mine would be a threat to tourism” and the article reads:

Tourism would be hit by a £41 million loss every year as visitors avoid congested roads and a spoil heap the size of Wembley Stadium, caused by a new potash mine, it is claimed. Following a new independent study, Chris France, the head of planning at the North York Moors National Park Authority, said: “People might say ‘there’s two big mines in that area, it’s just not a place I want to go to anymore’.”

Significant alterations and ‘miscalculations’ have put the future of the York Potash project at risk according to the planning chief. The study commissioned by the authority states that during the four-year construction period of the mine, there would be a 15 per cent reduction in the number of visitors to the National Park, leading to a loss to the economy of £40.78 million. And these figures only take into account losses within the National Park, the impact upon Whitby itself is not included. By contrast, the 1997 visit of the Endeavour brought £5 million into the local economy.

“It’s just a study, but it’s a detailed study and it’s statistically significant,” said Chris France, head of planning at the North York Moors. “We always thought that if you are going to do something of this size you are going to have an impact on people coming here, but we didn’t expect that much. It’s a massive sum.” The estimated reduction stands in stark contrast to claims by York Potash, who said the mine would have a “negligible impact” upon tourism.

Even when the mine is completely up and running, a new perception of the moors as an industrial centre instead of an unspoilt landscape could lead to a permanent loss of £13 million in tourist revenue each year. Following a request for more information from the authority, York Potash have recently adjusted their application, with some figures suggesting their initial claims were hugely optimistic.
The size of the spoil heap created at the site has been increased from 600,000 cubic metres to over 1 million cubic metres, and Mr France said: “That’s not just a miscalculation, it’s a massive error. It would fill Wembley stadium.”

The amount of indirect jobs to be created by the project has been revised down to 3,000. Also, rather than 80 per cent of workers at the mine taken from the immediate area, this sum has been reduced to 40 per cent. Mr France added: “There’s some really significant things and what this is showing is the impact on the National Park is much bigger than what we imagined. We are surprised by some of the significant changes in facts that have only come out at this incredibly late stage. If we hadn’t asked for more information we would be making a decision on things that are completely wrong now.”

Hmmmm…I cannot say that if were a Sirius shareholder (now wholly reliant on Shareprophets.com to bring you the news Sirius does NOT want you to hear) I would be wildly impressed by this fine article from the prestigious Whitby Gazette.

You can read the article in full here.



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