A Teesside MP has described the Boulby jobs blow as an “absolute and utter disaster”.
A total of 360 workers, including 220 staff and 140 contractors, will lose their jobs at Boulby potash mine, staff have been told by mine owner ICL UK.
It’s the latest major jobs blow to Teesside following the demise of the SSI steelworks and subsequent knock-on effect.
Speaking at the opening of Middlesbrough College’s new £20m Stem Centre today (Thursday), Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald told us: “It’s an absolute and utter disaster for this territory.
“Industrially it’s another hammer blow. We do have the counter to that with York Potash, mining the largest reserve of polyhalite of that quality anywhere in the world, so that can’t come online quickly enough in my view.
“We’ve got to look to our other industries and the other projects that are coming online.
“Teesside is indicative of constant change and constant evolution in our industrial base, so we’ve got to get on with it and make sure we’re encouraging new industries and new technologies to come here.
“This Stem Centre will be a major player in taking our communities forward to the next period of our industrial revolution.”
ICL says levels of “economically-feasible” potash reserves at Boulby will run out by 2018 – and the site needs to switch to producing fertiliser polysulphate.
Executive vice-president Peter Smith said: “The reality of our potash reserves running out by 2018 means that we must develop a new business strategy if we are to continue mining at Boulby.
“That strategy is based on moving our focus to polysulphate production.”
Northern Powerhouse Minister, Stockton South MP James Wharton, said it was “extremely disappointing news”.
“This will clearly have a terrible impact on those involved and comes at a very difficult time for the economy in Redcar and Cleveland,” he added.
“We need to look at what we can do to bring in investment and to support the Teesside economy, and I am going to be looking very closely at what options there might be.
“There is a lot of good news around too, but this is another blow in what has been a challenging few months.”
Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Tom Blenkinsop said: “My heart really goes out to our East Cleveland miners at Boulby. We must keep them and their families first and foremost.
“To be informed you may be losing your job is a devastating process to go through, and especially in the lead up to Christmas.
“This news compounds the crisis industry on Teesside is facing. Thousands of jobs have been lost in the past couple of months and the Government needs to seriously reassess how it will stop this terminal decline.”
Redcar MP Anna Turley added: “My thoughts are with the miners and their families who have been affected by today’s announcement.
“My constituents can rest assured that I will work tirelessly to represent their best interests locally, and in Parliament.
“I will be supporting my colleague Tom Blenkinsop MP on Monday when he will be seeking an urgent question regarding the crisis the industry in Teesside is facing.
The Boulby news come as it was announced more than 700 civil service jobs are expected to go with the closure of three Teesside tax offices – two in Middlesbrough and one in Stockton – over the next six years.
And Mr McDonald added: “To most people it sounds utterly ridiculous.
“We’ve got taxes to collect that are not being collected, and we need more people to do that not less.”