Canada’s Crystal Peak receives US approval for massive potash mine in Utah

Sevier Playa is an endorheic or terminal basin for the namesake lake, which has been mostly dry throughout recorded history and is a source of wind-blown dust. (Image courtesy of Doc Searls | Flickr Commons)

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, the company said it planned to begin work on site as soon as next year.

Potash is a critical ingredient in most fertilizers, and the US currently relies on imports to cover about 90% of its needs.

The Sevier Playa mine is expected to produce 372,000 tonnes a year of sulphate of potash (SOP), a premium grade fertilizer

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 to strengthen national security and reduce 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.

The project, located about 180 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, is forecast to employ about 275 people during construction and 175 permanently after.

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 18,000 acres.

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.

The Canadian junior also expects to extract magnesium and sodium chloride, used for melting snow and ice and for table salt, at the Sevier Playa site.