NT Hypersaline Brine (Lithium) and Potassium Clay Projects

The Pretoria Project is located in the Northern Territory covering over 7,000 square kilometres (9 exploration licences) of the MacArthur Basin. Exploration has targeted the acreage within Hayfield and Shenandoah pastoral properties, to the northeast of Dunmarra Roadhouse, representing an area of approximately 270 square kilometres.

This area has a distinctively high Potassium radiometric signature where the potassium radiometric signature coincides with a flat claypan, the product of internal drainage. This soil is being tested for its Sulphate of Potash (SOP) potential.

Positive chemistry of highly saline brines confirmed and characterised by elevated concentrations of dissolved potassium, magnesium and sulphates potentially which support the production of Sulphate of Potash to supply the Australian fertiliser market.

In addition, a review of the regional geology covered by the exploration licences confirm the presence of localised and regional faulting which, when combined with volcanics intersected by previous petroleum wells drilled within the licence area, provides several technical attributes for the potential for Lithium salts to be present. Historically lithium was not a sought after commodity and hence was not covered when laboratory analysis of the brines occurred.

Favourable climatic conditions for potential year round production of mineral salts using conventional evaporation and crystallisation ponds.

Commercialisation infrastructure being the Stuart Highway and the underutilised Amadeus Gas Pipeline traverse the Licence area.

Why is Sulphate of Potash (SOP) is being pursued by Greenpower Energy

Sulphate of Potash (SOP) is a premium-priced product that is in short supply.

  • In short supply
  • A premium-priced product ($700t)
  • Market demand is inelastic, buyers of SOP are less price sensitive
  • Mine and mill development costs are far less than building a Muriate of Potash (MOP) mine and mill
  • The most environmentally friendly potassium fertilizer.

The 2 main types are;

1) SOP – Sulphate of Potash – Potassium sulphate (K2SO4)
2) Muriate of Potash – Potassium Chloride (KCl)

Sulphate of Potash (SOP) is a 45-50% potash fertilizer readily distributed. It can be extracted from some lakes. It’s the expensive one but less harmful to plant roots and soil bacteria than muriate. SOP is a dual nutrient source that delivers high potassium and sulphate sulphur with virtually no chloride and low salt index. It is the premium potassium source that helps plants reach their full yield potential.

SOP benefits farmers worldwide by improving the quality and yield of high value crops such as fruits, vegetables, coffee beans, nuts and potatoes.

  • SOP makes plants more resistant to drought, frost, insect pests, and disease.
  • SOP improves the nutritional value, taste, and appearance of produce, including the size, colour, and smell.
  • SOP slows the deterioration of produce during transport and storage.
  • SOP provides plants with two vital nutrients – potassium and sulphur.
  • SOP improves a plant’s ability to photosynthesize.
  • SOP improves a plant’s ability to absorb phosphorus, iron, and other micronutrients.
  • SOP aids plants in the development of proteins, enzymes, and vitamins.
  • SOP has a low salinity index, which gives it an edge in regions with salty soils.
  • SOP is the preferred potassium fertilizer for sandy soils since it reduces the leaching of calcium and potassium.
  • SOP is the most environmentally friendly potassium fertilizer.

SOP benefits investors worldwide

  • SOP market demand is inelastic, but the demand for MOP is elastic; buyers of SOP are less price sensitive than buyers of MOP.
  • SOP is in short supply; MOP is well supplied by the world’s large potash companies.
  • SOP has very few natural sources.
  • SOP mine and mill development costs are ideal for small & mid-capped companies.
  • SOP is a premium-priced product, selling for at least $100 more per metric tonne than Muriate of Potash.
  • SOP is the most environmentally friendly potassium fertilizer.

Potash Price Surge Could Lead To Higher Food Costs For Billions

We are on the precipice of insufficient food for 7 billion people on earth, and potash will be right at the centre of it.

If you can add 200,000 people every day to the global population and account for a significant loss of farmland at the same time, you can begin to understand the dire food situation facing the planet. This is why potash is so important: It’s the fundamental element that everyone takes for granted, despite the fact that a projected 7.7 billion lives will depend upon it by 2020.

No commodity is more fundamental than potash—and there is a lot of pressure riding on an element that many people aren’t even familiar with. Of the key commodities taken for granted, potash is on the top of the list.

The challenge for farmers—and for the world—is to increase crop yields on less land, which is being lost to climate change and increasing urbanization. This means not only steady demand for the three main elements of fertilizer—potash, phosphate and nitrogen—but significantly higher demand.

A growing population needing to be fed from a limited amount of arable land makes fertilizer and particularly potash a robust commodity.

SOP Demand
(From IC Potash web site)

Sulphate of potash (SOP) is a specialty fertilizer that provides valuable potassium and sulphur nutrients while avoiding the unwanted chloride associated with muriate of potash (MOP).

SOP does not contain the chloride found in regular potash that can burn root systems or have other negative effects on crops. This means SOP is in high demand as a fertilizer for high-value chloride sensitive crops, including fruit trees and crops that require greater sulphur nutrition such as garlic, mustard and cabbage. The total demand for SOP is approximately 6 million short tons per year. The table below highlights the range of plants that benefit from SOP.

According to the Agriculture and Applied Economics Association, specialty crops generate on average more revenue by a factor of 10 times as compared to commodity crops such as corn. This means if 3.7% of land is used for specialty crops, these crops will on average produce 37.0% of revenue for the grower. For this reason, many farmers focus on this higher value segment of the market, which in turn drives SOP demand as well.

As the largest producer of tobacco, fruits and vegetables, China represents the greatest source of SOP demand globally and accounts for more than 40% of total demand.

Other emerging market economies also represent significant sources of SOP demand. This includes the developing economies of Brazil and India. As food preferences and the level of income available for high quality crops increase, this trend will continue to generate demand for SOP in these regions of the world.

SOP production
(From IC Potash web site)

Sulphate of potash (SOP) is not a naturally occurring mineral and is produced by chemical methods. Only a few of these processes exist, and the Ochoa process is projected to be one of the lowest cost methods worldwide.

Mannheim Process
The most common method of producing potassium sulphate is the Mannheim process, which is the reaction of potassium chloride with sulfuric acid at high temperatures.

Potassium Chloride and Sulphate Salts
Potassium chloride can be reacted with various sulphate salts to form a double salt that can be decomposed to yield potassium sulphate.

Naturally Occurring Brines
Some operations produce SOP from the salt mixtures harvested from natural brines. Three companies produce potassium sulphate in such a way on a large scale: GSL Minerals (Great Salt Lake, Utah), SQM (Salar de Atacama, northern Chile) and Luobupo Potash (Lop Nur, northwest China). This method requires brines with high sulphate levels such as those found within these salt lakes. The sulphate is typically present in the harvest salts in the form of the double salt kainite, which is converted to schoenite by leaching with sulphate brine. The leach process is hampered by high sodium chloride content in the harvest salts and the halite is first removed by flotation. After thickening, the schoenite is decomposed by simply adding hot water, whereupon the magnesium sulphate enters solution leaving SOP crystals.

This process is currently the lowest cost method to make SOP. As lakes with sufficient brine mineral levels are rare, this method only accounts for 15% to 20% of global supply.

Ochoa Process
IC Potash Corp.’s Ochoa process will convert polyhalite into SOP using unit operations common to the industrial minerals industry. Processing polyhalite to produce SOP involves the following steps: crushing and washing, calcination, leaching, crystallization, and granulation.