Plans readied to mine, process mineral for fertilizer additive
Potash America, a Reno company that acquired 39 claims in Mineral County in recent weeks, plans to begin readying its Sodaville property near the town of Mina for surface mining and milling of montmorillonite, says President and Chief Executive Officer Barry Wattenberg.
In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Potash America says it paid an advance of $200,000 to Sonseeahray and Kim Diaz, the sellers of the Mineral County mineral claims. Potash America will pay an additional $1.55 million over the next four years, as well as 2.5 million shares of the company’s common stock.
The company’s publicly held shares were trading at 89 cents on the over-the counter market last week.
Once mining of montmorillonite begins at the property, the sellers also will receive royalty payments of $10 a ton.
Montmorillonite is a clay-like rare-earth mineral that has many uses, including as a fertilizer additive, Wattenberg says. Potash America intends to construct a milling facility at its property, which includes an additional 48 claims encompassing a total of 1,500 acres.
Wattenberg says the montmorillonite milled at the Sodaville mine will be marketed to companies that produce fertilizer and possibly for the home retail market as well.
“It can be added like a Miracle-Gro to offer an incredible boost with all the rare earth and trace minerals that plants and bodies need,” Wattenberg says. “There is something spectacular about this stuff. The Earth seems to only have done it in a couple of places. It is a tremendous soil amendment.”
The next step for Potash America, which also operates a potash mine in Newfoundland, Canada, is to hire a mining engineer and a talented agronomist because the composition of the montmorillonite changes at different depths on the company’s claims, Wattenberg says.
Employment of mining labor and equipment operators will follow, and the company’s overall workforce depends greatly on demand for the montmorillonite.
“We expect to be able to attract very good talent in terms of real professional jobs and a lot of labor-intensive jobs,” Wattenberg says. “If there is a demand then our scalability will come into play.”
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