IM Agriminerals News in Brief 23– 29 January

By Myles McCormick
Published: Friday, 29 January 2016

Potash industry cleared of allegations of lowering Dead Sea water level; Sirius delays publication of York DFS until March.

In the Middle East, a study has revealed that the potash industry is not responsible for a drop off in the water level of Dead Sea in recent decades, Israeli news agency Haaretz reported.

The research, carried out by the Geological Survey of Israel, found that the cause of the rapid decline in the sea’s water levels in over the past number of years has been the increased pumping of water from the Jordan River’s tributaries in Jordan and Syria, as opposed to the potash industry in Israel and Jordan, as previously thought.

It said that the drop in sea level over the summer months has remained stable over the past number of decades, even though that is when most of the water used by the potash industry is pumped, implying that even if this industry is using more water, it is not responsible for the declining sea level.

London-listed Sirius Minerals Plc has delayed publication of a definitive feasibility study (DFS) for its York potash project in Yorkshire, UK until March, two months later than previously indicated.

Explaining the postponement, the company said that completion of a DFS for a project like York "is a very detailed process and there is a large amount of complex information from various suppliers, consultants and engineering firms that needs to be compiled, reviewed and then integrated".

Sirius also said that it is "moving towards the selection of preferred tenderers for the three initial critical path components for project implementation, being site preparation, mine shafts and the mineral transport system".

An outbreak of swine flu has been confirmed at K+S AG’s Legacy potash project near Regina in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada.

The Germany-headquartered potash producer said that five individuals had reported systems of the virus, also known as H1N1, one of which had been confirmed.

Colin Braithwaite, the company’s vice president of health, safety and security, said that the company had responded by "separating an area within [the] camp at the mine site where employees that have flu-like symptoms would be able to go to if they need to and aren’t able to travel home safely".

Potash West NL, listed on the ASX, said that a listing for Davenport Resources is expected in March or April this year, following an EGM to demerge it from current owners, ASX-listed Arunta Resources Ltd on 19 February.

After the listing, Potash West will sell East Exploration Ltd – in which it owns a 55% interest and through which it holds potash exploration licences in the South Hartz region of Germany – into Davenport in exchange for around 20m shares, or 29% of the company.

In phosphate news, New Zealand’s Chatham Rock Phosphate has called for "the role of fertiliser" to be included in research initiatives announced by the country’s government as part of its "Our Land and Water National Science Challenge".

Chatham said that the programme should identify what effect fertiliser use has on the quality of waterways, which it believes would illustrate the strength of its phosphate "as a local organic solution for New Zealand farms to help improve the quality of soil and water".

ASX-listed Brazilian phosphate producer Aguia Resources Ltd has released assay results from drilling programmes at its Tres Estradas and Joca Tavares sites.

Aguia said that the results from Tres Estradas will increase the site’s current indicated mineral resource in an upcoming bankable feasibility study (BFS). The project currently has a JORC resource of 70.1m tonnes – 15.2m tonnes indicated and 54.9m tonnes inferred.

The assay results from Joca Tavares, meanwhile, will be used in the preparation of a maiden JORC resource.

Switzerland-based EuroChem Group AG has signed an equity investment and two strategic collaboration agreements with Agrinos AS, a producer of biological crop nutrition products.

Under the share placement, EuroChem will acquire around 22m shares in Agrinos with an option to acquire up to around 33m more over the next two years.

The companies have also agreed that to collaborate on the distribution of Agrinos’ "High Yield Technology" via EuroChem’s distribution network and as well as on a fertiliser R&D project.

Finally, TSX-listed phosphate producer MBAC Fertilizer Corp. has said that it is continuing negotiations with an investment fund which it described as "active in the fertiliser industry".

While a letter of intent was extended to the end of January, MBAC said that there is not yet any assurance that the deal will be successfully agreed.

No further details on the potential agreement were given by the company.