N.B. to assess unwanted potash deposit

A potash deposit from which one of the world’s biggest fertilizer companies recently walked away will be the subject of a provincial review for its future potential.

The New Brunswick government announced May 11 it will soon finalize a contract to hire a third-party consultant to assess the remaining potash resource, if any, in the province’s Penobsquis potash deposit.

Saskatoon-based PotashCorp, which has previously operated three potash mines in the province, shut down its mine at Cassidy Lake in the late 1990s, closed its Penobsquis mine in 2015 and announced in January it would close its new Picadilly mine in the same area.

“As responsible managers of our province’s resources, we have an obligation to review and fully understand what, if any, potential resource remains in the Penobsquis potash deposit,” Energy and Mines Minister Donald Arseneault said in a release.

The consultant, when hired, will carry out an assessment of any remnant potash resource and its “potential for development in the event potash prices recover to suitable levels.”

The assessment is expected to take several months to complete, the province said.

“It is no secret that many of the residents of Penobsquis and the greater Sussex region have been hard hit by the recent mine closure,” Alaina Lockhart, the Liberal MP for the riding of Fundy Royal, said in the province’s release.

“I thank the provincial government for doing its due diligence on this file to ensure that all possibilities are understood before moving forward.”

PotashCorp, earlier this month, registered for an environmental impact assessment (EIA) to decommission the mine, the province said.

However, the province said, the Crown remains responsible for minerals in the province and “believes that a thorough resource assessment should be done before decommissioning the mine, subject to the EIA approval.”

PotashCorp, in its first-quarter report on April 28, said spot potash prices remained under pressure in Q1 as “absence of new contracts in China, limited demand from India and cautious buying patterns in spot markets” reduced global deliveries in the first quarter, compounded by “increased competitive pressures.”

Spot prices, however, “stabilized late in the quarter as signs of strengthening demand began to emerge ahead of the key application season,” the company said. — AGCanada.com Network

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