Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Western Potash hires project director

Western Potash (TSE:WPX) said Monday it hired Richard Lock as project director, effective March 20, to help the company develop its wholly-owned Milestone potash project in Saskatchewan.
Prior to joining Western Potash, Lock worked as project director for BHP/Rio Tinto's joint venture Resolution copper mining project in Superior, Arizona, where he was responsible for the development of the multi-billion dollar project, including pre-feasibility studies and associated on-site activities for exploration and future development.
Resolution hosts the third largest copper ore body in the world, and is expected to produce 25 percent of the U.S. copper supply, while creating 3,700 jobs and generating USD $61 billion in economic growth.
Lock started his career in the mining industry some 24 years ago, with De Beers-Anglo American in South Africa. He later joined Rio Tinto's (NYSE:RIO) Diavik Diamonds Project (Diavik) at Lac de Gras in Canada’s Northwest Territories, where he took the project from the evaluation stage to production.
Western Potash president and CEO, Patricio Varas, commented: "We are delighted to have Richard join our project development team.
"This appointment to the Milestone Project sends a clear signal that the company is effectively assembling a world class team, dedicated to bringing a world class Potash project to production.
"Those of our management team that have worked with Richard at Diavik and Resolution relish the opportunity to work together to deliver the newest independent potash mine in Saskatchewan."
Late last year, Western Potash announced several operational updates, including an updated resource estimate for the Milestone property.
The company said the updated resource estimate slightly increased the Milestone recoverable potash resource to 66.6 million tonnes in the measured category, 186.9 million tonnes of indicated resource, and 708.2 million inferred tonnes.
In October 2011, the junior miner said an independent prefeasibility study (PFS) confirmed its 100 percent-owned Milestone potash property showed "significant positive economics".
The study, carried out by AMEC Americas, showed that the asset was of sufficient size and grade to support mining for more than forty years at a production rate of 2.8 million tonnes per year. The annual production rate can also be expanded through a higher level of capital expenditure.
An assessment of project economics, assuming a discount rate of 10 percent, showed the resulting project net present value is C$4.14 billion, while the internal rate of return is 22.7 percent.
The initial capital expenditure estimate for the plant is $2.76 billion, including allowances for port infrastructure, a water supply pipeline, and off site railway. Unit operating costs were estimated to be $62.35 per tonne at full production capacity.
The environmental impact study (EIS) for the project remains on schedule and on budget, with an anticipated submission date in the third quarter of 2012.
The Milestone property, comprising 500 square kilometres, is located 30 kilometres southeast of Regina, and southeast of Mosaic’s Belle Plaine Mine, one of the largest producing potash solution mines in the world.

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