During mid-March, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued its Record of Decision approving the HB Solar Solution mine near Carlsbad, New Mexico, USA, and, with the BLM’s approval, Intrepid Potash immediately commenced construction activities on the project.

“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,” said Bob Jornayvaz, executive chairman, Intrepid Potash. “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/ton, improving our overall cost profile and margin opportunity. We also expect the mine to increase our potash production by approximately 25%.”

Intrepid will invest a total of approximately $200-$230 million to construct the HB Solar Solution mine, with approximately $35.3 million invested to date. The company anticipates 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.

The HB Solar Solution mine was formerly operated as a conventional underground potash mine and was idled in 1997 by its previous owner. It has 5 million tons of proven and probable reserves and an estimated mine life of 28 years.