Intrepid Potash, Inc. (“Intrepid”) (NYSE:IPI) announced today that on March 19, 2012, the Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) issued its Record of Decision (“ROD”) approving the HB Solar Solution mine near Carlsbad, New Mexico and, with the BLM’s approval, Intrepid immediately commenced construction activities on the project. The ROD became final this month.
Intrepid’s Executive Chairman of the Board, Bob Jornayvaz, stated, “We are very pleased to have begun construction of our HB project after more than three years of the BLM’s careful review and study of the project’s environmental impacts. This project is a game changer for Intrepid that will allow us to capitalize on our solution mining and solar evaporation expertise that we have developed from our current operations in Moab and Wendover, Utah. The HB Solar Solution mine will be one of the lower-cost potash mines in North America with cash costs estimated to be between $60 and $80 per ton, improving our overall cost profile and margin opportunity. We also expect the mine to increase our potash production by approximately twenty-five percent.” Mr. Jornayvaz continued, “The tremendous support for the project from the Carlsbad community; local, state, and federal government; and the oil and gas operators in the area was integral to our successful navigation of the Environmental Impact Statement process required by the National Environmental Policy Act. The ROD validates that the project meets the requirements for balanced management of public lands.”
We expect to invest a total of approximately $200 - $230 million to construct the HB Solar Solution mine, with approximately $35.3 million invested to date. Further, we anticipate that the first production from the HB Solar Solution mine will begin in late 2013 following the initial evaporation season, with increasing production in 2014, and a ramp up to full production expected in 2015, assuming the benefit of average annual evaporation cycles applied to full evaporation ponds. The estimated annual production from the HB Solar Solution mine is expected to be 150,000 to 200,000 tons of potash.
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