Reward Minerals reports that a scoping study of its LD sulphate of potash (SOP) project in Western Australia suggests the project has potentially the lowest capital intensity of any SOP project worldwide. Total development capital is estimated at A$320 million to develop a mine producing 400,000 mt/y of SOP.

Reward has initiated a feasibility study of the project.

The LD project is located in Western Australia’s Little Sandy desert about 340 km east of Newman and 890 km by road from Port Hedland. The project encompasses more than 4,000 km2 of granted tenements covering the Lake Disappointment playa and surrounding palaeovalleys.

The project scoping study assumes a 13-year mine life based on the existing SOP resource. Reward anticipates that ongoing drilling will expand the resource to allow a much longer mine life and possible future expansion of production.

The study also assumes an owner-operated mine and processing plant. Production is proposed using a combination of trenches and bores to provide 60 million to 70 million m3/y of feed brine to a system of evaporation ponds. Brines will be transferred through the ponds to produce evaporates grading about 20% SOP. Contaminants will be leached from the evaporites before SOP is crystallized to a solid form grading plus 44% potassium.

Two surface miners and a fleet of road trains will move up to 4.2 million mt/y of ore and halite, including approximately 2.8 million mt/y of kainite ore grading about 20% SOP.

The scoping study production rate for the LD project was determined based on work completed by Reward regarding cost benefits and economies of scale surrounding a number of production scenarios. The study also considered the current global demand for SOP of approximately 7 million mt/y, which, Reward states, is forecast to grow at a compound rate of about 4%/y.