$3B potash mine possible for Sedley – by Bruce Johnstone (Regina Leader-Post – March 19, 2014)


Rio Tinto partners with North Atlantic

A brief mention of a joint venture project with North Atlantic Potash Inc. in Rio Tinto’s 2013 annual report has the potash industry buzzing about a large find of potash near Sedley, about 30 kilometres southeast of Regina.

As it turns out, Saskatoon-based North Atlantic internally announced the discovery of 329 million tonnes of potash on its website in December, but never released the information to the public, according to a North Atlantic employee.

In the annual report, Rio reported that the Sedley area discovery contained “encouraging potash grade and thickness,’ according to an article earlier this week in The Australian, the country’s largest national newspaper.

The joint venture between Rio Tinto Potash Management, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, one of the largest mining companies in the world, and North Atlantic Potash, a subsidiary of JCS Acron, one of Russia’s largest mining companies, was formed in 2011. The joint venture was created to explore an area of about 600,000 acres (241,000 hectares) from Last Mountain Lake in the west to Broadview in the east.

“We strongly believe that together with the professional experience and financial capabilities that Australian-based Rio Tinto brings to this project, we will be able to be the next producing mine in Canada,’ said Arie Zuckerman, president of North Atlantic Potash, in September 2011.

With the hiring of 40-year potash mining veteran David Waugh as CEO the same month, North Atlantic began the process of exploring the most promising areas in the joint venture property, including sites at Foam Lake, Stockholm, near Esterhazy, Saskatoon and Sedley.

On Dec. 12, 2013, JCS Acron and its subsidiary North Atlantic announced the discovery of a “worldclass potash resource’ in the Prairie Evaporite potash formation in the KP405 permit. “Based on a solution mining operation, it is estimated that 329 million tonnes of KCl (potassium chloride) are recoverable …” At projected annual production of three million tonnes and estimated capital cost of $3 billion, the mine could last 100 years or more.

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