The creation of thousands of jobs has been secured after a rescue deal was agreed for the Sirius Minerals fertiliser project, which promises a major boost to local economies in Teesside and North Yorkshire.
Shareholders backed a £405m bid from company Anglo American for the cash-strapped firm, which has said it would fal into administration without the deal.
Sirius said the outcome had secured jobs and future benefit for the local community and wider region.
The project, which had created 1,000 local jobs and promises to create thousands more, will be UK’s first major deep mine in 40 years.
Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen described the deal as “bittersweet”.
He said: “I’m pleased to see this amazing project continue and with the backing of an internationally renowned company like Anglo-America. It will mean the thousands of jobs being created will continue and this project will come to fruition in good time.
“My thoughts do, however, turn to those local people who invested huge sums of money in Sirius and who are today facing significant financial losses as a result.
“A stark reminder that on a day when such an amazing project has new life and will be a world leading project, there are those who have lost out significantly.”
Sirius chairman Russell Scrimshaw said: “The positive outcome from (the) meeting secures a return for shareholders, and provides greater certainty in terms of safeguarding the project, protecting the jobs of our employees, and allowing the community, region and the UK to continue to benefit from the project.”
Shareholders who attended a fractious meeting at the Honourable Artillery Company in the City of London were asked to vote in favour of Anglo’s 5.5p per share offer, despite some paying as much as 25p a share when the company was growing. Shareholders, a large proportion of whom are small individual investors rather than big institutions, stood to lose out heavily.
The result comes nearly a decade after Sirius Minerals first unveiled plans to build a mine under the North York Moors to exploit a rich seam of polyhalite, a mineral that can be used as a potent fertiliser.
It built popular support for the plan by rallying 85,000 small investors – including an estimated 12,000 on Teesside and in North Yorkshire – to fund an ambitious undertaking that involved sinking two mine shafts and building a 23-mile underground conveyor belt to take polyhalite to Wilton on Teesside for export.
Its share price tumbled after a £400m bond issue failed, a crushing setback the firm blamed on Brexit sending a chill through debt markets and a refusal by the government to offer loan guarantees.