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Utah Companies Hit By Drop in World Potash Market

Dan Bammes

  The world market for potash took a hit last week when a Russian marketing consortium fell apart.  That could cause some difficulty for companies doing business in Utah.

Potash is used for fertilizer, and it was selling in the range of $400 a ton last week when a big producer in Russia said it would quit working with its marketing group and increase its output.  That led some traders to predict the price could drop below $300 a ton.

The stock prices of several potash producers in North America dropped dramatically on the news. Intrepid Potash, which has an operation near Moab, was down about 36% and the parent company of Great Salt Lake Minerals dropped by about 14%.

Lance D’Ambrosio, the CEO of Emerald Peak Mining Ventures, says his company’s plan to extract potash from Sevier Dry Lake is moving ahead.  Emerald Peak’s stock price didn’t change much, but the company is still several years away from production.

“The good news for us is we’re a ways off, so the noise in the marketplace today, we’re not as concerned about it having an immediate impact on us as a company," D'Ambrosio told KUER. "It certainly has an impact on the viability of projects like ours, but day to day, we’re not in the business of selling the commodity, so we’re not impacted that way.”

Most of the mineral potash produced around the world is potassium chloride (KCl).  Great Salt Lake Minerals produces potassium sulfate (K2SO4), which is considered a premium product and sells for a little more on world markets.  Emerald Peak also plans to produce potassium sulfate.

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