THE company behind a £3.2bn polyhalite project has received a financial boost to its plan to build one of the largest mines in the country.

US investment bank JP Morgan has agreed to provide a "large chunk" of the financing necessary for Sirius Minerals to complete construction on the project.

Sirius is looking to extract polyhalite, a mineral commonly used as fertiliser, from under the North Yorkshire moors, but the complexity of the project and the sensitivity required due to the location have meant long delays and extensive planning.

Production is still expected to start in 2021 but the company still has to create two deep shafts and a 40km tunnel which will transport the mineral away from the site to Teesside.

Ian Forrest, investment analyst at The Share Centre, said: "From a big picture perspective it is certainly good news that the main question is moving more from whether the mine will actually be completed towards what sort of return it will generate once production finally begins.

"Profits and dividends are clearly still many years away but the agreement with JP Morgan represents a significant endorsement, not just of the business model but also as a vote of confidence in the management to deliver the finished mine and repay the large amount of debt it has built up."

Last month, the tunnel boring machine that will be used to construct Sirius Minerals’ 23 mile tunnel was officially launched at a ceremony on Wilton International in Redcar.

School children unveiled a plaque with the name of the machine, Stella Rose, which was chosen by an online vote.

The tunnel is part of the company’s multi-billion pound project to extract polyhalite, a form of natural fertilizer, from Woodsmith Mine near Whitby. It will be transported on a conveyor belt along a 23 mile tunnel to Teesside, where it will be processed and shipped around the world.

The mine has been designed with most of its infrastructure underground and will create more than 1,000 jobs across the region.