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Australia’s Hancock Prospecting Invests in UK’s North York Potash Project

Australia’s richest woman, Gina Rinehart, has decided to invest £245 million in the UK’s biggest potash mine on the edge of the North York Moors national park. The £1.7 billion project was approved by eight votes to seven last year following a protracted four-year planning wrangle and it is poised to restore the region’s mining heritage and create more than 1,000 jobs. The project was supported by 93 percent of local people who wrote to the council, 81 percent of whom live in the national park. The project has moreover recently received a fresh boost when Sirius Minerals announced a £245 million deal with Ms Rinehart’s Australian agricultural firm Hancock Prospecting.

Under the agreement, Hancock Prospecting will purchase $50 million of Sirius shares and pay $250 million for a 5 percent royalty stream on the first 13 million tons of crop nutrient produced by the mine annually as well as the right to buy up to 20,000 tons of product each year for use on the Australian firm’s expanding agricultural holdings. The UK mine aims to produce as much as 20 million tons a year of a potassium-rich mineral called polyhalite, a type of potash fertilizer described by Sirius as a “fertilizer of the future”.

Ms Rinehart commented that “This project delivers a new and natural product that is relevant to Hancock’s focus on agriculture, and after years of field tests and across many crop types, demonstrated improved yields,” while adding that “Sirius has a large, high-quality mineral resource and is located in a stable jurisdiction with a competitive tax rate. The project has the potential to become one of the world’s leading producers of multi-nutrient fertilizer and could have a life of 100 years – this fits with my approach of investing in strategic areas for the long term.”

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