The Four Corners Of Potash: Utah

Saltph26In the northwestern quadrant of the Four Corners district of the United States you will find Utah, a state with such a diverse landscape and natural features that it has become a highly sought after destination for outdoor enthusiasts. From mountain biking trails to world-renowned ski resorts, Utah has everything an adventure seeker could hope for. But Utah's natural resource wealth runs deeper than what's found on the surface. Mineral exploration in Utah is one of the major economic drivers in the western state. The region's mineral wealth includes copper, uranium, gold, oil, gas and of course, potash.

Utah is one of the few states that produce potash. For the most part, the method used in the area is solar evaporation, whereby ponds of brine are evaporated thanks to Utah's warm, dry climate. There are a few companies with active potash mines in the state, and even more companies exploring Utah's vast potash resources.

The big names

The most well-known potash producer in Utah is Intrepid Potash (NYSE: IPI) who has been operating the Moab mine near Moab, Utah since the company acquired the property in 2000. Historically, mining the Moab deposit's muriate of potash (MOP) mineral wealth has been achieved through both conventional underground and solution mining. However, since Moab has been in Intrepid's hands, the company has discovered untapped potash resources and drilled vertical wells and horizontal solution mining caverns in order to extract potash from the deposit. Intrepid's Moab mine has been in operation since 1965 and has roughly another 125 years of life left.

Apart from its potash production at Moab, Intrepid is also working on its Wendover operation located just over 100 miles west of Salt Lake City. Muriate of potash has been extracted from Wendover for well over 75 years, however, Intrepid only acquired the project in 2004. MOP is produced via solution mining coupled with solar evaporation. The project produces about 95,000 tons of potash annually and is looking at at least another 120 years of mining.