Canada’s Crystal Peak Minerals (TSX-V: CPM) has achieved a key milestone for its Sevier Playa potash project in western Utah, as the US government granted the junior a permit allowing it to begin construction.
The Department of the Interior’s decision also enables the Toronto-based miner to accelerate financing and off-take agreements.
While Crystal Peak still
needs to secure some state permits and water rights, it said the it planned to
begin work on site as soon as next year.
Potash is a critical ingredient in most fertilizer, and the US currently relies on imports to cover about 90% of its needs.
In June, the Trump administration announced a strategy to speed up permits for mining and prospecting in public lands for nearly three dozen “critical minerals”, including potash, aiming at strengthening national security and reducing the need for imports.
Over the 30-year life of the
project, Sevier Playa is expected to produce 372,000 tonnes a year of
sulphate of potash (SOP), a premium grade fertilizer.
According to the Utah Geological
Survey, the state produced 491,000 tonnes of potash last year, worth about $240
million, and it remains the only domestic producer of
The project, located about 290 km (180
miles) southwest of Salt Lake City, is forecast to employ about 275 people
during construction and 175 permanently afterward.
Crystal Peak foresees drilling up
to 2,264 wells and cutting up to 492 km (306 miles) of trenches into the dried lakebed
to collect brines that will be moved through a system of ponds, covering up to
The bulk of the lease covers
federal land, but about 5% is on Utah state trust lands and an additional 4,000
federal acres are needed for utility rights of way.
The Canadian junior also expects to
extract magnesium and sodium chloride, used for snow and ice melting as well as
table salt, at the Sevier Playa site.