Public learns about potash

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Public learns about potash

Mining company explains plans to drill for mineral
Journal/Kimberly Benedict
Dolores Public Lands Geologist James Blair discusses possible potash exploratory core drilling sites with Jimbo Buickerood at an open house at Dolores County High School on Tuesday night. RM Potash, a subsidiary of Red Metal Limited, based in Sydney, Australia, has applied for permits for exploratory drilling on public lands in hopes of establishing a potash mine.
Miners hope to tap potash

A 44,000-acre area north of Dove Creek may become Colorado’s first full-production potash mine if exploration proves successful.
RW Potash, a subsidiary of Australian mining company Red Metal Limited, has applied for 21 potash prospecting permits for the area, which lies in Dolores and San Miguel counties. The applications are on file with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management at the Dolores Public Lands Office.
Potash, a group of naturally occurring minerals containing the element potassium, is one of three main ingredients in most fertilizer mixtures.
Canada and countries in the region of the former Soviet Union are the primary potash producing regions in the world, though more than 150 countries are part of the potash trade.
Only 20 percent of potash is produced domestically, according to research compiled by RM Potash.
“There is a huge market for fertilizer and therefore for potash,” Jon Thorson, RM Potash’s Colorado potash project manager, said during an open house held Tuesday at Dolores County High School to provide information about the proposal to the general public. “This is not a mineral that goes through a boom and bust cycle. World demand for food production and population growth demands potash development.”
Though the current scoping period covers just initial exploration, RM Potash hopes “proof of concept drills” will lead to large-scale production.
“We know the potash is there. It is just a matter of how much,” Thorson said.
If an initial exploration phase of two or three core samples proves promising, RM Potash will drill 12 to 15 more samples.
“We need physical samples so we can have it assayed,” Thorson said. “Right now with the indications we are dealing mostly with the art of interpretation. For large investors, we need an amount of certainty, which is where the proof of concept drill holes come in.”
Potash minerals are found in beds of rock salt that were deposited in the Four Corners, particularly Southeast Utah and Southwest Colorado, during the evaporation of an ancient marine sea.
Thorson has been working on the development of a potash mine in Dolores and San Miguel counties for three years.
“I started working on this project in 2008, but I’ve been working in the Paradox Basin since the mid-’80s,” he said. “I’m very familiar with the area and the resources.”
If developed, the potash bed won’t be mined in a conventional manner as the minerals are located nearly 6,000 feet below the surface. If it develops a mining operation, RM Potash will drill a deep hole and pump brine into the hole. The liquid dissolves the potash selectively, and then it will be pumped to the surface. Boilers fired by natural gas will separate the potash out of the liquid.
Water used for the project will come from deep aquifers of salt water that is not used for another purpose in Southwest Colorado.
If a mine is established in Dolores and San Miguel counties, it could stay in production for more than half a century, Thorson said.
“Really we are looking at more than 20 or 50 years,” he said. “It all depends on the size of the resource and we think it is substantial.”

On the Net: Red Metal Limited, www.redmetal.com.au.

Reach Kimberly Benedict at kimberlyb@cortezjournal.com.

Public learns about potash

Journal/Kimberly Benedict
Dolores Public Lands Geologist James Blair discusses possible potash exploratory core drilling sites with Jimbo Buickerood at an open house at Dolores County High School on Tuesday night. RM Potash, a subsidiary of Red Metal Limited, based in Sydney, Australia, has applied for permits for exploratory drilling on public lands in hopes of establishing a potash mine.
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