TORONTO, March 23 /CNW/ - IC Potash Corp. ("ICP" or the "Company") (TSXV: ICP) announced today that the Company has received an independent engineering report on the optimal method of producing Sulfate of Potash ("SOP") from polyhalite and related operating costs of production. The report was prepared by Gustavson Associates LLC, Feltchem Engineering, and Mr. James Waters MET MBA PE.
The report concludes that a simple low cost, robust production method using solar evaporation is the optimal method to produce SOP from polyhalite. The recommended process method uses solar energy to evaporate water from a polyhalite-produced potassium sulfate rich brine, allowing the SOP to crystallize and precipitate. The entire process system has been tested and proven in pilot scale tests by former potash companies. The process includes mining, crushing, and pulverizing ore, followed by heat treating the ore, and then leaching, solar evaporation, harvesting, upgrading, and granulation. The report further concludes that IC Potash's production cost will be very competitive in international markets for several reasons, including the high potassium grade of the polyhalite, the use of a simple clean brine that is produced by dissolution, and finally, the use of known proven unit operations and process methods that create a robust low cost operation.
Sidney Himmel, President and CEO of IC Potash said: "As a critical step towards a pre-feasibility study, we obtained an independent engineering report evaluating processing methods of converting polyhalite to SOP. This report both confirms solar evaporation as a proven technology and as the optimal method of producing SOP from polyhalite at a very low cost. With this validation, we will continue to aggressively move this project forward with the phase II drill program, planned to commence in early May, followed by a study on rock mechanics and the commencement of a pre-feasibility study."
Gustavson Associates, Feltchem Engineering, and James Waters, an experienced potash engineer were contracted to evaluate alternative methods of producing SOP from polyhalite. The three established and principal methods of SOP production are the reaction of potassium chloride (MOP) with sulphuric acid or an alternative source of sulfate; the processing and extraction of minerals or brines containing potassium and sulfate; and reacting potassium chloride and Kieserite.
The most common method of SOP production is the Mannheim process making up over 50 percent of the world's production. The Mannheim process is very high cost because it requires large amounts of MOP as an input, is energy intensive, and individual operations can only be built on a small scale. Another principal method of SOP production is through the evaporation of salt lake brines. There are three salt lakes in the world which have brines that are being treated to produce SOP. These are the lowest cost producers of SOP and account for approximately 15% of global SOP production. The third method of producing SOP and the second largest production source is through ion exchange, MOP is reacted with magnesium sulfate, (kieserite), to produce SOP and byproduct magnesium chloride. The recommended ICP method will be in effect a low cost salt lake brine evaporation method, using created brine in a built evaporation pond, rather than, a natural salt lake.
ICP will begin its Phase II exploration program in the next quarter which will include further resource delineation to provide information required to determine optimal mine location and processing methods. The Phase II program will include the acquisition of a bulk sample of polyhalite ore for additional production process optimization. The bulk sample will be obtained by horizontal coring and will provide material for additional process testing. Additional Process testing procedures, aimed at optimization, are currently being established as part of further independent studies to fine-tune operations planning under the weather conditions of south-east New Mexico.
About IC Potash Corp
ICP is developing its Ochoa New Mexico property with the primary purpose of using polyhalite as feedstock to produce Sulphate of Potash ("SOP"). SOP is premium priced potash that generally sells at premiums of 30% to 50% over the price of sylvite or Muriate of Potash ("MOP"). Currently MOP sells in the range of $375 per tonne in international markets compared to SOP that sells in the range of $500 per tonne in international markets.
The market for SOP is approximately 4 million tonnes per year. SOP is used as a significant alternative fertilizer for agricultural products such as fruits, vegetables, tobacco, potatoes, and horticultural plants. SOP has low "salinity" compared to MOP, and therefore is also used in various saline soils in the world, which are found for example in China, India, the Mediterranean, and the United States.
ICP's Ochoa property consists of federal sub-surface potassium permits granted by the Bureau of Land Management ("BLM") covering approximately 50,000 acres of land. All reclamation plans, environmental plans, and archeological work have been approved by BLM. ICP carries out all activities through its wholly owned subsidiary, Intercontinental Potash Corp.
Certain information set forth in this news release may contain forward-looking statements that involve substantial known and unknown risks and uncertainties. These forward-looking statements are subject to numerous risks and uncertainties, certain of which are beyond the control of ICP, including, but not limited to, risks associated with mineral exploration and mining activities, the impact of general economic conditions, industry conditions, dependence upon regulatory approvals, and the uncertainty of obtaining additional financing. Readers are cautioned that the assumptions used in the preparation of such information, although considered reasonable at the time of preparation, may prove to be imprecise and, as such, undue reliance should not be placed on forward-looking statements.
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SOURCE IC Potash Corp.
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