This is an updated version of an article published previously by the Investing News Network.
Australia’s potash production has historically been minor, and currently the country does not produce any potash. However, ongoing potash exploration in the nation has led to resources being published for various deposits in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
With that in mind, it’s interesting to look at the ASX-listed potash companies that are exploring and developing projects in Australia and other parts of the world.
Potash West (ASX:PWN)
Potash West in an exploration company focused on developing potassium-rich glauconite deposits in Western Australia’s Perth Basin. The company’s main asset is its Dinner Hill project, located in the Dandaragan Trough. In June 2015, Potash West reported a 108-percent increase in tonnage at the project, bumping the indicated and inferred potash resource to 195 million tonnes at 3.8 percent K2O. The company also recently decided to sell its non-core assets in Germany to focus on advancing Dinner Hill.
Besides working at Dinner Hill, Potash West and its partner, Strategic Metallurgy, have developed the proprietary K-Max process to extract sulfate of potash (SOP) and other co-products from glauconite. The process involves using a concentrated hot acid leach to break down glauconite, recovering all the potassium within the mineral in 6 to 8 hours.
Elemental Minerals (ASX:ELM)
Based in West Perth, this mineral exploration and development company’s primary asset is the 97-percent-owned Sintoukola potash permit, located on the coast of the Republic of the Congo. The permitted area has been broken up into three target areas: the Kola deposit, the Dougou deposit and the Yangala prospect.
Elemental Minerals commenced a bankable feasibility study (BFS) at the Kola sylvinite project and a prefeasibility study (PFS) at the Dougou carnallite project in August 2015. The company expects the BFS at Kola to be completed in Q3 2016, and construction is expected to start in Q2 2017. The PFS and an environmental and social impact assessment for Dougou are scheduled for completion in Q2 2016.
Reward Minerals (ASX:RWD)
Fully focused on potash exploration, Reward Minerals has multiple advanced exploration projects in Australia; however, its primary focus is on developing its 100-percent-owned LD project in Western Australia. The project has an indicated resource of 24.4 million tonnes of SOP, and recent drilling aimed at expanding the existing resource at depth has returned some promising results; seven core holes have been completed there to date.
The company’s other projects include Karly, which covers the Waukarlycarly embayment, Lake Dora, Lake Winifred and Lake Auld.
Rum Jungle Resources (ASX:RUM)
While Rum Jungle is interested in various minerals, including silica, lithium and phosphate, it has quite an impressive portfolio of potash projects throughout Australia. Those include its 100-percent-owned Karinga Lake and Lake Amadeus projects in the Northern Territory, as well as its Lake Frome and Lake Torrens projects in South Australia and the Lake Hopkins project in Western Australia. Run Jungle also has a joint venture with Toro Energy (ASX:TOE) called Lake Mackay South in Western Australia
In 2014, the company upgraded the resource at Karinga Lake to a total of 8.4 million tonnes of K2SO4 and completed a scoping study at the project. It also announced a maiden inferred potash resource of 4.5 million tonnes of K2SO4 at Lake Hopkins and reported a maiden JORC brine potash resource of 13 million tonnes at Lake Mackay South.
ActivEX is focused on different minerals, with a string of gold, silver and copper projects under its belt, but it also the Lake Chandler potash deposit in Western Australia. The company has been reviewing mining options for the deposit and is considering production rates of 150,000 to 300,000 tonnes per annum.
ASX-listed potash companies
While there is a fair amount of potash exploration taking place in Australia, some ASX-listed companies are working on potash projects throughout the world. Here’s a look at some of those companies.
Danakali, formerly South Boulder Mines, is focused on developing its Colluli potash project in Eritrea, Africa. With a mineral resource estimate of 1.289 billion tonnes at 10.76 percent K20 for contained SOP of 260 million tonnes, Colluli can be considered a world-class project. The company expects a definitive feasibility study for Colluli to be completed by Q4 2015, and has said that pilot tests, as well as groundwater testing, have been successfully completed there.
Highfield Resources (ASX:HFR)
Highfield Resources has a strong presence in Spain, with three potash projects that cover nearly 400 square kilometers in the Ebro basin.
The company has been busy in 2015, working to advance its Muga and Sierra del Perdón projects. In March, Highfield released the results of a definitive feasibility study for Muga, highlighting the project’s low capex potential and high margins. Later on, in April, the company released the maiden resource estimate for Sierra del Perdón; it points to an estimated indicated mineral resource of 41.8 million tonnes at 10.7 percent K2O and an estimated inferred mineral resource of 40.3 million tonnes at 10.5 percent K2O.
Orocobre is best known for its lithium operations in Argentina, but the company also holds substantial potash and boron facilities. The company’s flagship property is Salar de Olaroz, which contains both lithium and potash brines. Olaroz has an estimated measured and indicated resource of 1,752 million cubic meters of brine at 690 mg/L lithium, 5,730 mg/L potassium and 1,050 mg/L boron — that’s equivalent to 6.4 million tonnes of lithium carbonate and 19.3 million tonnes of potash. To date, Orocobre has no plans for its potash resource.
Potash Minerals (ASX:POK)
This ASX-listed company owns 90 percent of the Hatch Point potash project, which covers an area of 405 square kilometers of highly prospective permits in the Paradox basin in Southeastern Utah. The mineral resource estimate for the project is 902.4 million tonnes at 20.3 percent KCI equivalent average grade at a 156.9 percent KCI equivalent composite cut-off grade. The mineral resource includes both sylvinite and carnallite, with the sylvinite resource estimated at 604 million tonnes at 21.4 percent KCI average grade.
Kazakhstan Potash (ASX:KPC)
Kazakhstan Potash holds potash, gold, nickel and copper deposits. Its two primary potash salt deposits are located in Kazakhstan, but the company also has interests in multiple non-potash Australian mines.
Galaxy Resources (ASX:GXY)
Known primarily for its lithium production, Australian mining and chemicals company Galaxy Resources operates the Sal de Vida project in Argentina, which has a measured and indicated potash resource of 16,071,000 tonnes, as well as an inferred resource of 12,762,000 tonnes.
Did we miss a potash company listed on the ASX? Let us know in the comments.
Securities Disclosure: I, Kristen Moran, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.