Potash Ridge Corporation
TSX : PRK

Potash Ridge Corporation

April 04, 2016 07:59 ET

Potash Ridge Releases Valleyfield Study and Provides Update on Blawn Mountain

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - April 4, 2016) - Potash Ridge Corporation (the "Corporation") (TSX:PRK), a near term producer of premium fertilizer in North America is pleased to provide updates on its two key projects, as the environment for Sulphate of Potash ("SOP") remains very robust and companies in the agricultural sector continue to improve.

Highlights

  • Attractive market dynamics drive robust pricing for SOP.
  • Recently completed SNC-Lavalin capital and operating budget study for the 40,000 tonne per year Valleyfield Fertilizer Project ("Valleyfield") demonstrates solid economics.
  • Scaling of Blawn Mountain Project ("Blawn Mountain") currently being assessed in order to reduce upfront capital cost.

Sulphate of Potash

SOP is the world's most popular low-chloride fertilizer. It is beneficial to soils and plants and is considered one of the world´s most important specialty potash fertilizers. Combining potassium and sulphur, SOP provides a high concentration of nutrients for plants. SOP's low chloride content makes it the ideal potash-based fertilizer for soils at risk to salinity.

SOP improves crop yield and quality, increases resistance to drought, frost, pests and disease. SOP improves crop's nutritional value, taste and appearance and also adds to durability during transportation and storage.

SOP continues to be one of the best performing commodities across all sectors in recent years with realized prices in North America prices exceeding US$880/tonne in Q4 2015.

Pricing for SOP remains in sharp contrast to potash ("MOP") priced at US$238/tonne in Q4 2015.

Global consumption of SOP is approximately 5,000,000 tonnes per year and is expected to double over the next four years. The Company views its US target market as under-supplied, with only one main domestic supplier currently serving the North American market.

Capital and Operating Budget Completed for Valleyfield

The Corporation owns 100% of the Valleyfield Fertilizer Project in Valleyfield, Quebec.

Valleyfield's strategy is to become the first SOP producer in North America utilizing the proven Mannheim process. The Mannheim process is extensively used in Europe and Asia, and currently accounts for approximately 40% of the world's SOP supply. Valleyfield represents an exciting opportunity for Potash Ridge, as it has a low capital cost, near term production, and a robust rate of return.

In November 2015, SNC-Lavalin Inc. ("SNC") was engaged to conduct a capital and operating budget study for Valleyfield (the "Valleyfield Study"). SNC's engineering study encompassed the construction and operation of a 40,000 tonnes per year SOP facility. SNC estimates the total capital cost of the facility to be Cdn$48.8 million. Valleyfield is negotiating with reputable third parties for a potential investment of approximately Cdn$9.5 million of the Cdn$48.8 million, which includes the sulphuric acid and hydrochloric acid equipment and infrastructure.

Based on SNC's Valleyfield Study, the Company projects an after-tax net present value of Cdn$67 million, assuming a 10% discount rate, and an unlevered after-tax rate of return of 32.5%. These economics are based on a realized SOP price of Cdn$1,000 (US$760) per tonne and a delivered muriate of potash price of Cdn$500 (US$380) per tonne. The study is accurate within +/- 30%.

The Corporation is now focused on obtaining the required environmental permits, entering into SOP off-take arrangements, and raising the construction financing, with a target of commencing construction later in 2016, and beginning production in late-2017.

The city of Valleyfield is located 50km west of Montreal and contains the only self-managed port in Canada. The port is home to warehousing, storage, and handling services available to port customers. It is expected that the majority of the Corporation's SOP will be shipped through the port facilities. Rail lines from Canadian rail companies CN and CP run through Valleyfield, and US-based CSX Corporation, a leading rail-based transportation company, recently built a new depot in the city. The Corporation plans to utilize the existing inter-modal installations for efficient access to road, rail, and the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Valleyfield is also home to many industrial companies, including several complimentary service providers, customers, and suppliers. Valleyfield is well suited because of its local supply of sulphuric acid and close proximity to customers for hydrochloric acid. A memorandum of understanding was previously signed for the offtake of the hydrochloric acid. The primary raw material, MOP, can be easily delivered from Saskatchewan to the planned production facility. SOP can be shipped through the St. Lawrence River from the port facilities, which are located within two kilometres of the planned production facility.

Blawn Mountain

Potash Ridge's other SOP project is the 100%-owned Blawn Mountain Project located in the mining-friendly state of Utah. Blawn Mountain remains one of the world's top-tier SOP development projects.

Potash Ridge acquired Blawn Mountain in 2011 and has expended approximately $32 million on development, engineering and permitting. The Prefeasibility Study was published in December 2013, and the project is now essentially permitted.

Blawn Mountain Highlights:

  • Large surface mineral deposit; 40-year reserve life
  • Prefeasibility Study 43-101 Technical Report released in December, 2013
    • Average production of 585,000 tonnes per year of SOP over a 40-year mine life
    • 20.5% unlevered after-tax internal rate of return
    • US$190 / tonne opex (US$173 / ton)
    • US$1.1 billion capex
    • US$1.0 billion after-tax net present value, assuming a 10% discount rate
    • US$224 million average after tax annual cash flow
    • Prefeasibility Study based on two of four zones of mineralization
  • Major permits and water rights secured; infrastructure nearby

The Corporation is currently assessing the potential to phase the development of Blawn Mountain, initially developing the project at a more modest scale than what was contemplated in the Prefeasibility Study, thereby reducing the upfront capital cost.

Key catalysts and next steps at Blawn Mountain include:

  • Engage an engineering firm to evaluate the potential to develop Blawn Mountain at a more modest scale than what was contemplated in the Prefeasibility Study.
  • Obtain an Engineering, Procurement and Construction quote on the reduced scale alternative
  • Initiate discussions with potential offtake partners after completion of the reduced scale alternative evaluation

Potash Ridge remains committed to the development of the Blawn Mountain, and bringing into production North America's lowest cost supplier of SOP. Together, Blawn Mountain and Valleyfield have the potential to make Potash Ridge the largest producer of SOP in North America.

About Potash Ridge

Potash Ridge's strategy is to become a premier producer of sulphate of potash or SOP in North America. The Corporation owns two SOP projects: the Valleyfield Project that plans to produce SOP through the Mannheim Process; and the Blawn Mountain Project in Utah that plans to produce SOP by processing an alunite material. Potash Ridge has a highly qualified and proven management team in place with significant financial, project management and operational experience and the ability to take projects into production.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements, which reflect the Corporation's expectations regarding future growth, results of operations, performance and business prospects. These forward-looking statements may include statements that are predictive in nature, or that depend upon or refer to future events or conditions, and can generally be identified by words such as "may", "will", "expects", "anticipates", "intends", "plans", "believes", "estimates", "guidance" or similar expressions. In addition, any statements that refer to expectations, projections or other characterizations of future events or circumstances are forward-looking statements. These statements are not historical facts but instead represent the Corporation's expectations, estimates and projections regarding future events. Forward-looking statements are necessarily based upon a number of estimates and assumptions that, while considered reasonable by the Corporation, are inherently subject to significant business, economic and competitive uncertainties and contingencies. Known and unknown factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected in the forward-looking statements. Such factors include, but are not limited to: the future financial or operating performance of the Corporation and its subsidiaries and its mineral projects; the anticipated results of exploration activities; the estimation of mineral resources; the realization of mineral resource estimates; capital, development, operating and exploration expenditures; costs and timing of the development of the Corporation's mineral projects; timing of future exploration; requirements for additional capital; climate conditions; government regulation of mining operations; anticipated results of economic and technical studies; environmental matters; receipt of the necessary permits, approvals and licenses in connection with exploration and development activities; appropriation of the necessary water rights and water sources; changes in commodity prices; recruiting and retaining key employees; construction delays; litigation; competition in the mining industry; reclamation expenses; reliability of historical exploration work; reliance on historical information acquired by the Corporation; optimization of technology to be employed by the Corporation; title disputes or claims and other similar matters.

If any of the assumptions or estimates made by management prove to be incorrect, actual results and developments are likely to differ, and may differ materially, from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements contained herein. Such assumptions include, but are not limited to, the following: that general business, economic, competitive, political and social uncertainties remain favorable; that agriculture fertilizers are expected to be a major driver in increasing yields to address demand for premium produce, such as fruits and vegetables, as well as diversified protein rich diets necessitating grains and other animal feed; that actual results of exploration activities justify further studies and development of the Corporation's mineral projects; that the future prices of minerals remain at levels that justify the exploration and future development and operation of the Corporation's mineral projects; that there is no failure of plant, equipment or processes to operate as anticipated; that accidents, labour disputes and other risks of the mining industry do not occur; that there are no unanticipated delays in obtaining governmental approvals or financing or in the completion of future studies, development or construction activities; that the actual costs of exploration and studies remain within budgeted amounts; that regulatory and legal requirements required for exploration or development activities do not change in any adverse manner; that input cost assumptions do not change in any adverse manner, as well as those factors discussed in the section entitled "Risk Factors" in the Corporation's Annual Information Form (AIF) for the year-ended December 31, 2014 found on sedar.com. The Corporation disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by applicable law.

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