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Call for common sense over £13m Cleveland Potash grant
AN MP has called for the Government to use more common sense after a North-East company turned down a £13m enterprise grant to give it time to conduct more research.
Cleveland Potash revealed it is unable to accept the money from the Regional Growth Fund for a new processing facility, pledged in January last year, because it wants to conduct more research before investing in the plant.
The company, which thanked the Government for its assistance, wants to establish whether it would be technically and financially viable to build the processing plant and says it cannot complete the research within the Government’s timeframe.
The news has prompted Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Tom Blenkinsop to call for the Government to work around the issue so the firm does not miss the opportunity.
But Redcar MP Ian Swales, a Liberal Democrat, said he was disappointed the company had not accepted the grant, adding that the fund had already given a number of firms significant boosts.
The Northern Echo understands the firm intended to use the grant to build a polyhalite processing plant at South Bank Wharf, in Mr Swales’ constituency, away from the mine at Boulby, east Cleveland, which is in Mr Blenkinsop’s constituency.
The firm said it will still invest millions in stepping up its polyhalite mining and processing operations, and its existing activities will be unaffected.
Early indications show billions of tonnes of high-grade mineral polyhalite, which can be processed to make potash, lie in a thick seam in an area the firm has mining rights to. The discovery could secure the future of the mine for at least 50 years.
Cleveland Potash extracts fertiliser potassium chloride – known as potash – and rocksalt from its premises at Boulby, east Cleveland, as well as polyhalite.
Managing director Phil Baines said: “In a project of this scale and complexity, it is vital we and our parent company, ICL, are certain that the downstream processing of the polyhalite is both technically and financially viable.
“As a result, we have decided to conduct further detailed research into the design of the proposed processing plant.
“We regret that due to our additional research will not meet the timeframe required to obtain the Regional Growth Fund grant.”
Mr Blenkinsop said: “This is disappointing news for the area and I hope there can be some way of working round it so the opportunity is not lost.
“The Government should show some common sense and use their discretion over this decision that could support the workforce for many years to come.”
Mr Swales said: “I have visited Cleveland Potash and their project for a processing plant in my constituency is an outstanding opportunity. I hope they will come back and talk to the Government when they are ready to invest.’’
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