New Brunswick seeks potash mining proposals

New Brunswick’s government is officially looking for a miner to dig into the last of the province’s known potash deposits.

Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup on Wednesday posted a request for proposals to develop south-central New Brunswick’s Millstream deposit, which he described as the province’s only remaining confirmed deposit that’s yet to be developed.

Given current crop prices, both the demand and price for potash-based fertilizers are “very strong, which makes this an opportune time to make the Millstream deposit available,” he said.

“If further exploration confirms this is an economically viable deposit, developing a new mine would mean hundreds of jobs and generate much-needed revenue for the province.”

The request for proposals asks interested parties to submit plans by June 6 for “further assessment” of the Millstream deposit and for eventual development of its potash and/or related evaporite mineral deposits.

The province will offer to enter into an agreement for three years and give the successful proponent two years to mount an exploration program.

If the deposit turns out to be viable, the proponent would then have to submit a feasibility study and proposed development plan by the end of the third year, the province said.

On top of the “normal” level of royalties, interested parties are asked to propose a share of profits they would also contribute to the province.

Furthermore, the province “will also give particular importance to any proponent that agrees to carry out additional refining or value-added production within the province,” Northrup said. “This additional activity would result in more jobs, which is our primary interest.”

The Millstream deposit, about 10 km west of Sussex, between Saint John and Moncton, was discovered over 25 years ago. BP Resources Canada explored the deposit in the 1980s, the province said.

The province’s three other confirmed deposits, all in the Sussex area, have already either been or are being developed.

Saskatchewan fertilizer giant PotashCorp, for one, announced plans in 2007 for a new two-million-tonne mine into the Picadilly deposit, next to the mine it already operates there.

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