Company seeks BLM approval to drill test holes
by Steve Kadel
Staff Writer
Apr 11, 2013 | 1916 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print

A company that wants to drill exploratory holes for possible potash production 20 miles west of Moab expects to receive a decision on its request to the Bureau of Land Management by mid-summer.

Officials of American Potash, a wholly owned subsidiary of Vancouver, British Columbia-based Magna Resources, want to drill eight test holes on the firm’s 51,000-acre Green River Potash Project in the Paradox Basin. The company already has approval from the state of Utah to drill three exploratory holes.

Magna President Mike Sieb and Del Fortner of American Potash briefed the Grand County Council on their progress during the council’s April 2 meeting.

“Paradox Basin is an ideal global location for potash,” Sieb said. “We know the potash here is exploitable. There is huge potential here.”

The U.S. imports 70 percent of the potash used in this country, primarily as a component in fertilizer, he told the council. Sieb said “a potential sizeable deposit” exists on the land it wants to test.

Potash prices are expected to remain at the current $400 to $400 per ton, although some industry analysts believe growing food demand could push the price to $500, according to Potash Investing News.

American Potash’s leases are 85 percent on federal land and 15 percent on state land, he said. If approved, production could start in 18 months to two years, Sieb said.

Fortner emphasized they’re seeking permission to explore, not for production. He said the holes on eight drill pads will be capped after exploration takes place.

The results will tell company officials whether there is economic potential at the site, Fortner added.

The BLM currently is preparing an environmental assessment. That will take into consideration exploration’s effects on air quality, wildlife, water, public safety and visual impact, Fortner said.

A 30-day comment period will begin once the assessment has been completed.

Fortner said the view looking west from Arches National Park will not be affected by the exploratory drilling.

“Our entire project is invisible from the park,” he said.

Sieb and Fortner appeared before the council for the first time since 2010 to give an update on their plans.

“I really believe this is an important project for the county,” council chairman Gene Ciarus said.

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