IC Potash polyhalite ore project, the source of the SOP fertilizer, received very positive results of metallurgical testing focused on increasing the recovery of potassium sulphate from the polyhalite resource. The tests from the Ochoa project in New Mexico were conducted by Hazen Laboratories, one of the world’s premier metallurgical and processing laboratories. The exploration work has been completed, and the focus is now on engineering work, and a pre-feasibility study is scheduled for release in October 2011.
The project is planned to produce initially 600,000 metric tonnes of SOP, and expects that production capacity will grow to one million tonnes per year. Measured and indicated resources are adequate for over 100 years of production.
The company estimates that leaching recoveries of at least 97 per cent will be obtained in a full operating plant environment and expects operating costs will be lower as a result and ICP is presently forecasted in the bottom quartile of the world cost curve. The required process uses heat and water to convert the ore (polyhalite, which contains potassium and sulphate into potassium and sulphate brine) and the subsequent phase will process the brine into the SOP. This process is currently implemented in the United States, Chile, and China.
IC Potash’s SOP product will be sold initially in the United States, Mexico, and South America, where demand is strong and growing at higher rates than the MOP markets, and then foreign markets, primarily North Africa and Asia.
SOP fertilizer is a non-flammable white crystalline salt which is soluble in water and essential for crop growth. It is particularly suitable for chloride sensitive crops like tobacco, tea, pineapple, potato, grape, etc. and sells at a 40 per cent premium to the price of regular muriate of potash (MOP). SOP demand is more stable than MOP.