Australian Potash is set to be an early mover in the local Sulphate of Potash, or “SOP” fertiliser market after the company this week finally achieved the required all-important Ministerial environmental approval for its Lake Wells project in WA. The project’s off the chart’s definitive feasibility study, or “DFS” numbers would make most hard rock miners blush and the company will now get its chance to make them a reality.
The Lake Wells project shows a ridiculously long minimum mine life of some 30 years and potentially up to 50 years if some of the extensional opportunities not modelled into the DFS come to pass.
Australian Potash’s financial modelling for the project shows an impressive net present value of AU$665 million and a spectacular AU$100m a year in free cash spinning out of the project every year for 30years.
It will also employ 65-80 people in steady-state operations.
The company’s market capitalisation is currently around $90m.
It is now well placed to meet the growing demand for the critical fertiliser material following notice from WA’s Minister for the Environment, Stephen Dawson, that a “proposal may be implemented” for the Lake Wells Sulphate of Potash Project.
Managing Director and prime mover, Matt Shackleton, said the Minister’s statement has given the green light for all decision-making authorities to now proceed with the issuing of the requisite standard licenses and permits to commence development.
We are very pleased to announce the achievement of another significant milestone in the development of the Lake Wells SOP Project.
Receiving this full environmental approval allows us to now secure the operating licenses and permits to develop the Project and proceed to development on making a Final Investment Decision.
Curiously, Shackleton has already managed to get 100 per cent of the DFS projected 150,000 tonnes per annum output from the project spoken for – and they are take-or-pay agreements, removing a significant traditional hurdle to debt funding.
The company signed a binding 10-year take-or-pay term sheet with Hamburg-based global agricultural product specialist, HELM AG in November 2020 for 20,000 t/pa of K-Brite for distribution into the United States of America, representing the last of the off-take deals that collectively locked up 100 per cent of the DFS forecast offtake.
Due diligence by lenders, including the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, Export Finance Australia and commercial lenders is either complete or nearing completion.
The Lake Wells SOP project is located approximately 500kms northeast of Kalgoorlie, in Western Australia’s Eastern Goldfields, with good access to infrastructure and key transport options.
There is a growing global demand for SOP thanks to high-intensity farming. The product provides both potassium and sulphur in soluble forms and as it contains no chloride, it has a much lower salt index than its competitor, Muriate of Potash or “MOP”.
The achievement of environmental approval for a sulphate of potash project that takes up hectares and hectares of land with ponds and other items of infrastructure is a herculean task and places Australian Potash well ahead of the pack of wannabe fertiliser producers.
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