THE company behind the York Potash project wants to raise £15 million through a share placing to provide extra working capital as it seeks planning approvals for its mine designs.

Sirius Minerals, which plans to build a billion-pound potash mine at Sneaton, near Whitby, said the fundraising is to ensure the firm stays in a strong financial position during the planning process and beyond.

The AIM-listed company, which raised £43 million last year and last month held cash equivalents of around £12 million, has planning applications with the North York Moors National Park Authority, with decisions expected by the end of May at the earliest.

After last year raising £13 million more than its £30 million target, Sirius now plans to place 214.3 million shares at 7p each, which represents 11.2 per cent of the existing share capital, to raise £15 million.

The placing, which is being conducted by an accelerated bookbuilding process to qualifying investors, will be launched immediately.

Liberum Capital and Macquarie Capital (Europe) are acting as joint co-ordinators and joint bookrunners on the placing. WH Ireland is acting as a co-bookrunner. If approved the York Potash Project will see millions of tonnes of polyhalite, used as a plant fertiliser, extracted from under the national park every year. Sirius claims the scheme will create 1,000 jobs.